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•' Ella stood, fan in hand." 



• 

''Laden with Golden Grain.'' 


THE 


ARGOSY. 


EDITED BY 

MRS. HENRY WOOD. 



V O L U M E XXIX. 

January to June, 1880. 



RICHARD BENTLEY & SON, 

8, NEW BURLINGTON STREET, LONDON, W. 
pu^ligfTjerjai in iaDminarp to i^cc C^sjejitp» 

All rights reserved. 




LONDON : 

PRINTED BY J. OGDEN AND CO. 

172, ST. JOHN STREET, B.C. 






CON TENTS. 



-*^*- 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. With Illustrations by M. Ellen 
Edwards. 

PAGS 

Chap. 4. Gilbert Denison's Will i 

II. Mrs. Carlyon at Home ........ 8 

III. Captain Lennox Startled ........ i6 

IV. Heron Dyke and its Inmates . . . . . . .81 

V. An Unexpected Visitor ........ 88 

VI. One Snowy Night 98 

VII. Coming to Dinner ......... 161 

VIII. At the Lilacs 167 

IX. The Doctor's Verdict 174 

X. A Day with Philip Cleeve 241 

XI. A Visit from Mrs. Carlyon 248 

XIL Farewell 257 

XIII. Winter at Heron Dyke 321 

XIV. Dr. Downes' Snuff-box 328 

XV. Patchwork 334 

XVI. The Twenty-fourth of April 401 

XVII. Mr. Blackett calls upon the Squire 411 

XVIII. Sudden Tidings 418 



Johnny Ludlow's Papers : 

Verena Fontaine's Rebellion ... 26, 106, 188, 265, 345 

About Norway. By Charles W. Wood. With Thirty-three 

Illustrations 42, 124, 205, 282, 364, 446 

Antoine, the Blacksmith. By F. E. M. Notley .... 233 

Architect's Wife, The 393 

Beethoven's Pupil 64 

Between Two Stools. By Charles Hervey 296 

Christmas Party, One Hundred Years Ago. A 68 

Crewel Work. By Emma Rhodes 186 

Cuckoo Song. By G. B. Stuart 264 

Daylesford : A Story of Oxford Life 219 

Exiles of Siberia, The 146 

First Time at Church. By Emma Rhodes 160 

Grey Cottage, The . . . . 138 



iv Contents, 

PAGE 

Happy New Year, A. By Sydney Grey 41 

In the Abbot's Seat 466 

Looking Back. By C. M. Gemmer 320 

Lottie's " Yes " 149 

Mad Matty. By Anne Beale 458 

Mirage, The 476 

Mr. Smith 380 

Night in a Balloon, A 56 

Rare Case, A 306 

Rhine Wine in Rhine-Land 400 

Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. By Johnny Ludlow. 26, 106, 188, 265, 345 



POETRY. 

A Happy New Year. By Sydney Grey . 
First Time at Church. By Emma Rhodes 
Crewel Work. By Emma Rhodes . 
Cuckoo Song. By G. B. Stuart 
Looking Back. By C. M. Gemmer , 
The Mirage. By Sydney Grey . 



41 

160 
186 
264 
320 
476 



ILLUSTRA TIONS. 

By M. Ellen Edwards. 
" Ella stood, fan in hand." 
" Mrs. Keen was having her sign repainted." 
" They walked through the dewy glades of the Park." 
" At that moment he felt that he loved her dearly." 
Philip and Mrs. Ducie meet at Lord Camberley's. 
"The Squire says you may read this ! " said Hubert. 



THE ARGOSY. 



THE MYSTERIES OF HERON DYKE. 



CHAPTER I. 

GILBERT DENISOn's WILL. 

THE First Gentleman in Europe sat upon the throne of his 
fathers, and the Battle of Waterloo was a stupendous event 
that still dwelt freshly in men's memories, when one bright August 
evening, Gilbert 'Denison, gentleman, of Heron Dyke, Norfolk, lay 
dying in his lodgings in Bloomsbury Square, London. 

He was a man c/ sixty, and, but a (t\N days before he had been 
full of life, health,^nd energy. As he was riding into town from 
Enfield, where he had been visiting some friends, his horse slipped, 
fell, and rolled heavily over its rider. All had been done for Gilbert 
Denison that surgical skill could do, but to no avail. His hours were 
numbered, and none knew that sad fact better than the dying man. 
But in that strong, rugged, resolute face could not be read any dread of 
the approaching end. He was a Denison, and no Denison had ever 
been known to fear anything. 

By the bedside sat his favourite nephew and heir, whose christian 
name was also Gilbert. He was a young man of three or four and 
twenty with a face which, allowing for the difference in their years, 
was, both in character and features, singularly like that of his uncle. 
Gilbert the younger was not, and never had been, a handsome man; 
but his face was instinct wiih power, it expressed strength of will, and 
a sort of high, resolute defiance of fortune in whatever guise she 
might present herself. This young man carried a riding-whip in his 
hand ; on a table near, lay a pair of buckskin gloves. He wore 
Hessian boots with tassels, and a bottle-green riding coat much 
braided and befrogged. His vest was of striped nankin, and he carried 
two watches with a huge bunch of seals pendant from each of them : 

VOL. XXIX. B 



2 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 

while, over the velvet collar of his coat, fell his long hair. His 
throat was swathed in voluminous folds of soft white muslin, tied in a 
huge bow, and fastened with a small brooch of brilliants. Our young 
gentleman evidently believed himself to be a diamond of the first 
water. 

The August sun shone warmly into the room, through the half 
open windows came the hum of traffic in the streets ; a vagrant breeze, 
playing at hide-and-seek among the heavy hangings of the bed, brought 
with it a faint odour of mignonette from the boxes on the broad win- 
dowsills outside. A hand of the dying man sought a hand of his 
nephew, found it, and clasped it. The latter had been expressing his 
sorrow at finding his uncle in so sad a state, and his hopes that he 
would yet get over the results of his accident. 

''There is no hope of that, boy," said Mr. Denison. "A few hours 
more, and all will be ended. But why should you be sorry ? Is the 
heir ever really sorry when he sees the riches and power, which all his 
life he has been taught will one day be his, coming at last into his 
own grasp ? Human nature's pretty much the same all the world 
over." 

" But I am indeed heartily sorry; believe me or not, uncle, as you 
like." 

" I will try to believe you, boy," said Mr. Denison with a faint 
smile, " and that, perhaps, will answer the same purpose." 

There was silence for a little while, then the sick man resumed. 
"Nephew, this is a sad, wild, reckless life that you have been leading 
in London these four years past." 

*' It is all that, uncle." 

*' Had I lived, what would the end of it have been ? " 

*' Upon my word, I don't know. Utter be£:gary I suppose." 

" How much money are you possessed of?" 

" I won a hundred guineas the other night at faro. I am not aware 
that I possess much beyond that." 

" And your debts ? " 

The young man mused a moment. " Really, I hardly know to a 
hundred or two. A thousand pounds would probably cover them, 
but I am not sure." 

"A thousand pounds ! And I have paid your debts twice over 
within the last four years ! " 

Gilbert the younger smiled. " You see, uncle, the schedule I sent 
you each time was not a complete one. I did not care to let you 
know every liabiUty." 

** You did not expect me to assist you again ? " 

•'' Certainly not, sir, after the last letter you wrote me. I knew that 
when you wrote in that strain you meant what you said. I should 
never have troubled you again." 

" After your hundred guineas had gone — and they would last you 
but a very short time — what did you intend to do ? " 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 3 

*'I had hardly thought seriously about it. Perhaps the fickle god- 
dess might have smiled on me again. If not, I should have done 
something or other. Probably enlisted." 

" Enlisted as a common soldier ? " 

" As a common soldier. I don't know that I'm good for much 
else." 

" But all that is changed now. Or at least you suppose so." 

*' I suppose nothing of the kind, sir," said the young man hotly. 

" As the master of Heron Dyke, with an income of six thousand a 
year, you will be a very different personage from a needy young rake, 
haunting low gaming tables, and trying to pick up a few guineas at 
faro, from bigger simpletons than yourself." 

Gilbert the younger sprang to his feet, his lips white and quivering 
with passion. "Sir, you insult me," he said, "and with your per- 
mission, I will retire." And he took up his hat and gloves. 

" Sit down, sir — sit down, I say," cried the elder man, sternly. 
" Don't imagine that I have done with you yet ?" 

" I have never been a frequenter of low gaming houses ; I have 
never cheated at cards in my life," said the young man proudly. 

" You would not have been a Denison if you had cheated at cards. 
But again I tell you to sit down. I have much to say to you." 

Gilbert the younger did as he was told, but with something of an 
ill grace. In his eyes there was a cold, hard look, that had not been 
there before. 

" Nephew, if you have not yet disgraced yourself — and I don't 
believe that you have — you are on the high road to do so. Has it 
ever entered your head to think whither such mad doings as yours 
must inevitably land you ? " 

" I suppose that other men before me have sown their wild oats," 
said Gilbert, sulkily. " I have heard it said, that you yourself, 
sir " 

" Never mind me. The question we have now to consider is that 
of your future. When you are master of Heron Dyke — if you ever 
do become its master — is it your intention to make ducks and drakes 
of the old property, as you have made ducks and drakes of the for- 
tune left you by your father ? " 

"Really, sir, that is a question that has never entered into my 
thoughts." 

" Then it is high time that it did enter them. I said just now ' If 
you ever do become the master of Heron Dyke.' " 

"Was that intendf^^d as a threat, sir?" asked Gilbert, a little fiercely. 

" Never mind what it is intended as, but listen to me. I presume 
you are quite aware that it is in my power to leave Heron Dyke to 
anyone whom I may choose to nominate as my heir — to the greatest 
stranger in England if I like to do so ? " 

" I am of course aware that the property is not entailed," said the 
other stiffly. 



4 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

" And never has been entailed," said Mr. Denlson, with emphasis- 
" It has come down, from heir male to heir male, for six hundred 
years. Providence having blessed me with no children of my own, 
by the unwritten law of the family, the property would descend in due 
sequence to you. But that unwritten law is one which I have full 
power to abrogate, if I think well to do so. Such being the case, ask 
yourself this question, Gilbert Denison : ' Judging from my past life 
for the last four years, am I a fit and proper person to become the 
representative of one of the oldest families in Norfolk ? And would 
my uncle, taking into account all that he knows of m.e, be really 
justified in putting me into that position?'" 

The elder man paused, the younger one hung his head. "I think, 
sir, that the best thing you can do, will be to let me go headlong to 
ruin after my own fashion," was all that he said. 

" You will be good enough to remember that I have another 
nephew," resumed the dying man. " There is another Gilbert Den- 
ison, as well as yourself." 

" Aye ! I'm not likely to forget him," said the other, savagely. 

" So ! You have met, have you ? Well, from all I have heard of 
m.y brother Henry's son, he is a clever, industrious, and well con- 
ducted young man — one not given, as some people are, to wine-bib- 
bing, and all kinds of riotous living. Had you been killed in a 
brawl, which seems a by no means unlikely end for you to come to, 
he would have stood as the next heir to Heron Dyke." 

Young Gilbert writhed uneasily in his chair ; the frown on his 
face grew darker as he listened. " And even as matters are," re- 
sumed his uncle, blandly, "even though you have not yet come to an 
untimely end, it is quite competent for me to pass you over and 
nominate your cousin as my heir." 

" Oh, sir, this is intolerable ! " cried the young man, starting 
to his feet for the second time. " To see you as you are, uncle, 
grieves me to the bottom of my heart : believe me or not. But I 
did not come here to be preached at. No man knows my faults and 
follies so well as I know them myself. Leave your property as you 
may think well to do so ; but I hope and pray, sir, that you will never 
mention the subject to me again." 

He turned to quit the room, and had reached the door, when he 
heard his uncle's voice call his name faintly. Looking back, he was 
startled to see the change which a few seconds had wrought in the 
dying man. His eyes were glassy, the pallor of his face had deep- 
ened to a deathlike whiteness. Gilbert was seriously frightened : 
he thought the end had come. There was some brandy in a decanter 
on the little table. It was the work of a moment to pour some into 
a glass. Then with the aid of a teaspoon, he inserted a small portion 
of the spirit between the teeth of the unconscious man. This he did 
again and again, and in a little while he was gratified by seeing some 
signs of returning life. There was an Indian feather-fan on the 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 5 

c ii:nney-piece. With this, having first flung the window wide 

)en, he proceeded to fan his uncle's face. Presently Mr. Denison 
sighed deeply, and the light of consciousness flickered slowly back 
into his eyes. He stared at his nephew for a moment as though 
woidering whom he might be, smiled faintly, and pointed to a chair. 

Gilbert took one of his uncle's clammy hands in his, chafed it 
gently for a little while and then pressed it to his lips, " You are 
better now, sir," he said. 

" Yes, I am better. 'Twas nothing but a little faintness. I shall 
not die before to-morrow night." He lay for a little while in silence, 
gazing up at the ceiling like one in deep thought. Then he said, ''And 
now about the property, Bertie." 

The young man thrilled at the word. His uncle had not called 
him by that name since he was quite a lad. " Oh, sir, do not trouble 
yourself any more about the property," he cried. "Whatever you have 
done you have no doubt done for the best." 

*' But I want to tell you what I have done and why I have done 
k. To-morrow I may not have strength to do so." Young Gilbert 
moved uneasily in his chair. The sick man noticed it. " Impatient 
of control as ever," he said, with a smile. " Headstrong — wilful — 
obstinate ; you are a true Denison. Measure me a dose out of that 
bottle on the chimney-piece. It will give me strength." 

Gilbert did as he was bidden, and then resumed his seat by the bed- 
side. " It was not a likely thing, my boy, that I should leave the 
estate away from you," resumed Mr. Denison : and, despite all his self- 
control, a sudden light leapt into Gilbert's eyes as he heard the 
words. 

" Notwithstanding all your wild ways and outrageous carryings on, 

1 have never ceased to love you. You have been to me as my own 
son ; as your father was to me a true brother. As for Henry, although 
he is dead, there was no love lost between us. We quarrelled and 
parted in anger, as we should quarrel and part in anger again were he 
still alive. I do not want to think that a son of his will ever call 
Heron Dyke his home." 

Young Gilbert's face darkened again at the mention of his cousin's 
name. As between the two brothers years ago there had been a feud 
that nothing had ever healed, so between the two cousins there had 
arisen a deadly enmity, which nothing in this world (so young Gilbert 
vowed a thousand times to himself) should ever bridge over. They 
were good haters, those Denisons, and never more so than when they 
had quarrelled with one of their own kith and kin. 

"No, the old roof-tree shall be yours, Gilbert, and all that pertains 
to it," continued Mr. Denison, "as you will find when my will comes 
to be read. You will find, too, a good balance to your credit at the 
Bank, for I have not been an improvident man. At the same time I 
iiave had expenses and losses of which you know nothing. But — 
there is a ' but ' to everything in this world, you know — you will find 



6 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

in my will a certain proviso which I doubt not you will think a strange 
one, most probably a hard one, and which I feel sure you will at first 
resent almost as if I had done you a personal injury. It has not been 
without much thought and deliberation that the proviso I speak of has 
been embodied in the will, but I fully believe that twenty years hence, 
should you live as long, you will bless my memory for having so 
introduced it." 

Mr. Denison lay back for a moment or two to gather breath. His 
nephew spake no word, but sat with his eyes bent studiously on the floor. 

" Gilbert, as a rule we Denisons are a long-lived race," resumed 
the dying man, "and but for this unhappy accident, I have a fancy that 
I should have worn for another score years at the least. If you have 
ever been at the trouble to read the inscriptions on the tombs of your 
ancestors in NuUington Church, you must have noticed how many of 
them lived to be seventy-five, eighty, and in some cases ninety years 
of age. Now, what prospect, or likelihood, is there of your living to 
be even seventy years old ? Your constitution is impaired already. 
That dark sunken look about the eyes, those fine-drawn lines around 
the mouth, what business have they there at your age ? I tell you, 
Gilbert Denison, that if you do not change your mode of life at once 
and for ever, you will not live to see your thirtieth birthday. And 
what probability is there that you will change it ? That is the ques- 
tion that I have asked myself, not once, but a thousand times. If 
this wild and reckless mode of life has such fascinations for you, that 
it has induced you to dissipate the fortune left you by your father, to 
apply to me more than once to extricate you from your difificulties, to 
involve you deeply with the money-lenders, and to bring you at 
length to contemplate I know not what as a mode of escape from your 
troubles, what sort of hold will it have over you, when you come into 
the uncontrolled possession of six thousand a year ? That is a pro- 
blem which I, for my part, cannot answer." 

Mr. Denison paused as though he expected Gilbert to answer his 
last question. There was silence for a little while, and then the nephew 
spoke in a low, constrained voice. " I can only repeat, sir, what I said 
before : that you had better let me go headlong to ruin my own way.'' 

" Not so. I have told you already that I have made you my heir. 
Heron Dyke, and all that pertains to ic, will call you master in a few 
short hours. It " but here he broke off for a moment to over- 
come some inward emotion. '' I shall never see the old place again, 
and I had such schemes for the next dozen years ! Well — well ; we 
Denisons are not children that we should cry because our hopes 
are taken from us." 

" Sir, is not this excitement bad for you ? " asked the nephew. 
And the other cleared his voice, and then went on more firmly. 

" Yes, Gilbert, the old roof-tree, and the broad acres, shall all be 
yours, and long may you live to enjoy them. That is now the dearest 
wish left me on earth.'' 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. y 

** But the proviso, sir, of which you spoke just now?" said the 
young man, whose curiosity was all aflame. 

" The proviso is this : That should you not live to be seventy years 
of age, the estate, and all pertaining to it, shall pass away from you 
and yours at your death, and go to your cousin, the son of my brother 
Henry ; or to his heirs, should he not be alive at the time. But 
should you overpass your seventieth birthday, though it be but by 
twelve short hours, the estate will remain yours, to will away to whom 
you please, or to dispose of as you may think best." 

Gilbert Denison stared into his uncle's face, with eyes which plainly 
said, *' Are you crazy, or are you not ? " 

"No, Gilbert, I am not mad, however much, at this first moment, you 
may be inclined to think me so," said Mr. Denison with a faint smile, 
as he laid his fingers caressingly on the young man's arm. *' I told 
you before, that I had not done this thing without due thought and 
deliberation. It is the only mode I can think of to save you from 
yourself, to tear you away from this terrible life of dissipation, and to 
make a man of you, such as I and your father, were he now alive, 
would like you to become. I have given you something to live for ; 
I have put before you the strongest inducement I can think of to re- 
form your ways. Once on a time you had a splendid constitution, 
and seventy is not a great age for a Denison to reach. In due time 
you will probably marry and have a son. That son may be left little 
better off than a pauper should his father not live to see his seventieth 
birthday. If I cannot induce you to take care of your health for your 
own sake, I will try to induce you to do so for the sake of those who 
will come after you. Heaven only knows whether my plan will suc- 
ceed. Our poor purblind schemes are but feeble makeshifts at the best." 
"In case I should fall in the hunting-field, sir, or — ?" 
" Or come to such an untimely end as I have come to, eh ? 
Should you meet with your death by accident, and not by your own 
hand, the special stipulation in the will which I have just explained to 
you, will become invalid, and of no effect. You will find this and 
other points duly provided for. Nothing has been forgotten." 
There ensued a silence. The sick man suddenly broke it. 
" Perhaps some scheme may enter your head, Gilbert, of trying 
to upset the will after I am dead ? But you will find that a difficult 
matter to do." 

" Now, Heaven forbid, sir," cried the young man vehemently, "that 
such a thought should find harbourage in my brain for a single moment! 
You think me worse than I am. You do not know me : you have 
never understood me." 

"Do we ever really understand one another in this world? We 
are so far removed from Heaven, that the lights burn dimly, and we 
see each other but as shadows walking in the dusk." 

At this moment there was a ring below stairs, then a knock at the 
chamber door, and in came the nurse. The doctor was waiting. 



8 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

"You had betttr g) now, my boy," said Mr. Denison, pressing 
Gilbert's hand afftctionately. " At ten to-morrow I shall expect to 
see you again." 

Gilbert Denison stood up and took the dying man's fingers within 
his strong grasp ; he gazed with grave, resolute eyes, into the dying 
man's face. " One moment, sir. As I said before — you do not 
know me. You have seen one side of me — the weak side — and that 
is all. If you think that, when I make up my mind to do so, I can- 
not throw off the trammels of my present life, almost as easily as I 
cast aside an old coat, then, sir, you are quite and entirely mistaken. 
That I have been weak and foolish, I fully admit, but it is just pos- 
sible, sir, that, young as I am, I may have had trials and temptations 
of which you know nothing. How many men before me have striven 
to find in reckless dissipation a Lethe for their troubles ? Not that I 
wish to excuse myself: far from it. I only wish you to understand 
and believe, uncle, that there is a side to my character of which as yet 
you know nothing." 

*' I am willing to believe it, Gilbert," was the answering murmur : 
and once more the young man pressed Mr. Denison's hand to his lips. 

When Gilbert Denison called in Bloomsbury Square the following 
morning, he found his uncle much weaker, and more exhausted. Mr. 
Denison was evidently sinking fast. Gilbert stayed with him till the 
end. A little while before that end came, he drew his nephew down 
to him, and spoke in a whisper : 

'' Never forget the motto of your family, my boy: 'What I have, 
I hold.'" 

And before the sun rose again, Gilbert Denison the younger was 
master of Heron Dyke, with an income of six thousand a year. 



CHAPTER n. 

MRS, CARLYON AT HOME. 

Forty-five years, with all their manifold changes, had come and 
gone since Squire Denison, of Heron Dyke, died in his lodgings in 
Bloomsbury Square, London. 

It was the height of the London season, and at Mrs. Carlyon's 
house at Bayswater a small party were assembled in honour of the 
twenty-first birthday of her niece, Miss Ella Winter. Mrs. Carlyon, 
who had been a widow for several years, was still a handsome woman, 
although she could count considerably more than forty summers. 
Her house was a good one, pleasantly situated, and well furnished. 
She kept her brougham and half a dozen servants, and nothing pleased 
her better than to see herself surrounded by young people. Most 
enjoyable to her were those times when Miss Winter was allowed by 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. g 

her great-uncle, the present Squire Denison, of Heron Dyke, to 
exchange for a few weeks the quietude of the country for the gaieties 
of Bayswater and the delights of the London season. Such visits, 
however, were few and far between, and were appreciated accord- 
ingly. 

To-day some ten or a dozen friends were dining with Mrs. Carlyon. 
One of them was little Freddy Bootle, with his little fluffy moustache, 
his eye-glass, and his short-cut flaxen hair parted down the middle. 
Freddy was universally acknowledged to be one of the best hearted 
fellows in the world, and one of the most easily imposed upon. He 
was well connected, and was a junior partner in the great East-end 
brewery firm of Fownes, Bootle and Bootle. He was in love with 
Miss Winter, and had proposed to her a year ago. Although unsuc- 
cessful in his suit, his feelings remained unchanged, and he was not 
without hope that Ella would one day look on him with more favour- 
able eyes. Ella and he remained the best of friends. That little 
episode of the declaration in the conservatory, which to him had 
been so momentous an affair, had been to her no more than a 
passing vexation. 

Another of the gentlemen whom it may be as well to introduce, is 
Philip Cleeve, son of Lady Cleeve, of Homedale, near Nullington. 
He and Miss Winter are great friends. Philip is in love with Maria 
Kettle, the only daughter of the Vicar of Nullington. What a hand- 
some fellow he is, with his brown curling hair, his laughing hazel 
eyes, and his ever-ready smile. Ella sometimes wonders how Maria 
Kettle can resist his pleasant manners and fascinating ways. There 
is no more general favourite anywhere than Philip Cleeve. The 
worst his friends said of him was that he was given to be a little 
careless in money matters — and his purse was a very slender one. 
Between ourselves, Philip was sometimes hard up for pocket money : 
though, perhaps, these same friends suspected it not. 

Dinner was over, and the ladies had returned to the drawing-room, 
when Mrs. Carlyon was called downstairs, and a couple of minutes later 
Ella was sent for. A gentleman had called. Captain Lennox, bringing 
with him a birthday gift for Ella, from Mr. Denison, of Heron Dyke. 
The Captain had accidentally met Mr. Denison the day previous, 
and happening to mention that he was about to run up to London 
on a flying visit, the latter had asked him to take charge of and 
deliver to his niece, a certain little parcel which he did not feel quite 
easy about entrusting to the post. This parcel the Captain now 
delivered into Ella's hands. On being opened, the contents proved 
to be a pair of diamond and pearl ear-rings. 

Mrs. Carlyon at once gave Captain Lennox a cordial invitation to 
join the party upstairs, which he as cordially accepted. They had 
never met before ; but Ella had some acquaintance with the 
Captain and his widowed sister, who lived with him in Norfolk. The 
Captain and his sister had come strangers to Nullington some six 



10 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

months previously, and finding the place to their liking, had, after a 
fortnight's sojourn at an hotel, taken The Lilacs, a pretty cottage 
ornee. Captain Lennox was a tall, thin, fair-haired man about forty 
years of age. He had clear-cut aquiline features, wore a moustache 
and long whiskers, and was always faultlessly dressed. 

" How was my uncle looking, Captain Lennox?" asked Ella, some- 
what anxiously, when the ear-rings had been duly examined and 
admired. 
. '' Certainly quite as well as I ever saw him look." 

" I am glad of that. I had a letter from him three days ago, in 

which he said that he had not felt better for years. But that is a 

• phrase he nearly always makes use of when he writes to me. He 

does it to satisfy me. When his health is in question, Uncle Gilbert's 

statements are sometimes to be taken with a grain of salt." 

" Now that Captain Lennox has assured you that your uncle is no 
worse than usual, you can afford to give me another week at Bays- 
water," said Mrs. Carlyon. 

Ella smiled, and shook her head. " I must go back next Monday 
without fail." 

"You are as obstinate as the Squire himself," cried her aunt. " I 
have a great mind to write and tell him that he need not expect you 
before the twentieth." 

" He will expect me back on the thirteenth," said Ella. " And I 
would not disappoint him for a great deal." 

" Well, well, you must have your own way, I suppose. All the 
same, it is a great deprivation to me. But those good people upstairs 
will think I am lost, so come along, both of you." 

At this juncture a fresh arrival was announced. It was Mr. Conroy, 
special artist and correspondent for " The Illustrated Globe," whose 
vivid letters from the seat of war had been so widely read of late. 
Mrs. Carlyon received him with warmth. " I hope you have brought 
some of your sketches with you, as you so kindly promised," she 
said, when greetings were over. 

" My portfolio is in the hall," he replied. " But you muet not 
expect to see anything very finished. In fact, my sketches are all in 
the rough, just as I jotted them down immediately after the events I 
have attempted to pourtray." 

'' That will only serve to render them the more interesting. They 
will seem like veritable pulsations of that awful struggle," said Mrs. 
Carlyon, as she rang the bell and ordered the portfolio to be brought 
upstairs. Then she introduced Conroy to her niece, Miss Winter : 
and he gave a perceptible start. 

"They have met before," thought Captain Lennox to himself. 
He was looking on from his seat close by, and he watched keenly 
for a gleam of recognition between them. But no such look came 
into the eyes of either. The Captain, who had a keen nose for 
anything not above board, turned the matter over in his mind. 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 1 1 

" That start had a meaning in it," he mused. " There's more under 
the surface than shows itself at present." 

Conroy never forgot the picture that stamped itself on his memory 
the first moment he set eyes on Ella Winter. He saw before him a 
tall, slender girl, whose gait and movements were as free and stately 
as those of a queen. She had hair of the colour of chestnuts when 
at their ripest, and large luminous eyes of darkest blue. The eye- 
brows were thick and nearly straight, and darker in colour than her 
hair. Her face was a delightful one in the mingled expression of 
gravity and sweetness — the gravity was often near akin to melancholy 
— that habitually rested upon it. A forehead broad, but not very 
high ; a straight, clear-cut nose with delicate nostrils ; lips that were, 
perhaps, a trifle over-full, but that lacked nothing of purpose and 
decision ; a firm, rounded chin with one dainty dimple in it : such 
was Ella Winter as first seen by Edward Conroy. This evening she 
wore a dress of rich but sober-tinted marone, relieved with lace of a 
creamy white. " I have often wished to see her," muttered Conroy 
to himself. "Now I have seen her, and I am satisfied." 

Mrs. Carlyon had the portfolio taken into her boudoir so as to be 
clear of the music and conversation in the larger room, and there a 
little group gathered round to examine and comment upon the 
sketches, and to listen to Conroy's few direct words of explanation 
whenever any such were needed. 

Ella stood and looked on, listening to Mr. Conroy's remarks and 
to the comments of those around her, and only giving utterance to 
a monosyllable now and then. " This man differs, somehow, from 
other men," was her unspoken thought. " He is a man carved out 
by hand ; not one of a thousand turned out by lathe, and all so 
much alike that you cannot tell one from another. He has indi- 
viduality. He interests me." 

She was taking but little apparent interest in what was going on be- 
fore her; but, for all that, she lost no word that was said. She stood, fan 
in hand, her arms crossed before her, her fingers interknit, her eyes, with 
a look of grave sweet inquiry in them, bent on Conroy's face. " Aunt 
shall ask him to leave his portfolio till to-morrow," she thought, " and 
after these people are gone I can have his sketches all to myself" 

Conroy was indeed of a different mould from those butterflies of 
fashion who ordinarily fluttered around Miss Winter. He was cer- 
tainly not a handsome man, in the general acceptation of the term. 
His face was dark and somewhat rugged for a man still young, but 
lined with thought, and instinct with energy. He had seen his 
twenty-eighth birthday, but looked older. Edward Conroy had gone 
through much hardship and many dangers in the pursuit of his pro- 
fession. Already his black hair was growing thin about the temples, 
and was streaked here and there with a fihe line of grey. The 
predominent expression of his face was determination. He looked 
like a man not easily moved — whom, indeed, it would be almost 



12 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 

impossible to move when once he had made up his mind to a certain 
course. And yet his face was one that women and children seemed 
to trust intuitively. At times a wonderful softness, an expression of 
almost feminine tenderness, would steal into his dark brown eyes. 
Tears had nothing to do with it : he was a man to whom tears were 
unknown. The sweetest springs are those which lie farthest from 
the surface and are the most difficult to reach. From the first, Ella 
felt that she had to contend against a will that was stronger than her 
own. From the first she could not help looking up to, and deferring 
to Edward Conroy, as she had never deferred to any man but her 
uncle. Probably she liked him none the less for that. 

When Conroy's sketches had been looked at and commented upon, 
the majority of the company went back into the drawing-room. 
Dancing now began, and Ella found herself engaged to one partner 
after another. Conroy sat down in a corner of the boudoir next to 
old-fashioned, plain-looking Miss Wallace, whom nobody seemed to 
notice much, and was soon deep in conversation with her. Ella was 
annoyed two or three times at detecting herself looking round the 
room and wondering what had become of him. Somehow she 
seemed to pay less attention than usual to the small talk of her 
partners. They found her indifferent and distrait. "She maybe 
rich, and she may be handsome," remarked young Pawson, of the 
Guards, to one of his friends, "but she is not the kind of woman that 
I should care to marry. She has a way of freezing a fellow and making 
him feel small ; and that's uncomfortable, to say the least of it." 

By-and-by Conroy strolled into the drawing-room, and Captain 
Lennox, who happened to be w^atching Ella at the time, saw the 
sudden light that leapt into her eyes the moment she caught sight of 
his form in the doorway. " She's interested in him already," mut- 
tered the Captain to himself. "This Mr. Conroy is playing some 
deep game or I am very much mistaken. I wonder where he has 
met her before ? " 

"How do you think my niece is looking?" asked Mrs. Carlyon of 
Captain Lennox, a litde later on, as she glanced fondly at Ella. 

"Uncommonly well," replied the Captain. "She always does 
look well." 

"Ah no, not always. She was not looking well when she came 
to me." 

Captain Lennox considered. He also glanced across at Ella. " I 
have noticed one thing, Mrs. Carlyon — that she has at times a 
strangely grave look in her eyes for one so young. It is as if she 
had something or other in her thoughts that she finds it difficult to 
forget." 

"That is just where the matter lies. How caji she forget? Since 
that strange affair that happened last February at Heron Dyke " 

" Oh, that was a regular mystery," interrupted the Captain, aroused 
to eager interest. " It is one still." 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 13 

"And it has left its effects upon poor Ella. A mystery: yes, 
you are right in calling it so ; sure never was a greater mystery 
enacted in melodrama. Ella's stay with me has, no doubt, benefited 
her in a degree, but I am sure it lies in her thoughts almost night 
and day." 

''Well, it was a most unaccountable thing. I fancy it troubles 
Mr. Denison." 

" It must trouble all who inhabit Heron Dyke. For myself, I do 
not think I could bear to live there. Were it my home I should 
leave it." 

Captain Lennox stroked his fair vhiskers in surprise. " Leave 
it ! " he exclaimed. " Leave Heron Dyke ! " 

"/should. I should be afraid to stay. But then I am a woman, 
and women are apt to be timorous. If — if Katherine " 

Mrs. Carlyon broke off with a shiver. She rose from her seat and 
moved away, as though the subject were getting too much for her. 

A strange mystery it indeed was, as the reader will confess when 
he shall hear its particulars later. But it was not the greatest mystery 
enacted, or to be enacted, at Heron Dyke. 

" I have a favour to ask you, Mr. Conroy," began Ella, when they 
found themselves apart from the rest for a moment. 

" You have but to name it," he answered, a smile in his speaking 
eyes as they glanced into hers. 

"Will you let your portfolio remain here until to-morrow? I 
want to look at the sketches all by myself." 

" They interest you ? " 

"Very much indeed. How I should like to have been in Paris 
during that terrible siege ! " 

"You ought to be thankful that you were a hundred miles away 
from it." 

" But surely I might have been of some sort of use. I could have 
nursed among the wounded — or helped to distiibute food to the 
starving — or read to the dying. I should have found something to 
do, and have done it." 

"Still I cannot help saying that you were much better away. You 
can form but a faint idea of the terror and agony of that awful 
time." 

" But there were women who went through it all, and why should 
not I have done the same? My life seems so useless — so purpose- 
less. I feel as if I had been sent into a world v/here there was 
nothing left for me to do ! " 

"So long as poverty and sickness, want and misery abound, there 
is surely enough to do for earnest workers of every kind." 

"But how to set about doing it? I feel as if my hands were 
tied, and as if I could not cut the cord that binds me." 

" And yet your life is not widiout its interests. Your uncle for 
instance " 



14 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

" You have heard about my uncle ! " she said, in her quick way, 
looking at him with a little surprise. 

" Yes, I have heard of Mr. Denison, of Heron Dyke. There is 
nothing very strange in that." 

"Ah, yes, I think I am of some use to him," said Ella, softly. " I 
could not leave Uncle Gilbert for anything or anybody. And I have 
my school in the village, and two or three poor old people to look 
after. My life is not altogether an empty one ; but what I do seems 
so small and trifling in comparison with what I think I should like 
to do. After all, these may be only the foolish longings of an igno- 
rant girl who has seen little or nothing of the world." 

Mr. Bootle came up and claimed Ella's hand for the next 
dance. The special correspondent's face softened as he looked 
after her. 

"What a sweet creature she is !" he said to himself. "To-morrow 
I will try to sketch her face from memory." 

Phihp Cleeve was one of the earliest to leave. He had com- 
plained of a severe headache for the last hour, and had scarcely 
danced at all. A little later Mr. Bootle and Captain Lennox 
went off arm-in-arm. They had never met before this evening, but 
they seemed to have taken a mutual liking to one another. When 
Conroy took his leave, Mrs. Carlyon invited him to call again : and 
he silently promised himself it should be before Ella Winter's de- 
parture for Norfolk. But, as circumstances fell out, it was a promise 
he could not keep. 

Two o'clock was striking as Mrs. Carlyon sat down on her dressing- 
room sofa after the departure of her last guest. Taking out her ear- 
rings, she handed them to her maid, Higson. 

" I am glad things passed off nicely," she remarked to Ella, who 
had stepped in for a few moments' chat. " All the same, I am not 
sorry it's over," she added, with a sigh of weariness. 

"Neither am I," acknowledged Ella. "It would take me a long 
while to get used to your London hours. Aunt Gertrude." 

"That's a pleasant man, that Captain Lennox, Ella. Very fashion- 
able, I see; but he — Higson, what in the world are you fidgeting 
about ? " Mrs. Carlyon broke off to ask. 

" I am looking for your jewel-case, ma'am," was the maid's re- 
joinder; "I can't see it anywhere. Perhaps you have put it away?" 
she added, turning to her mistress. 

" I have neither seen it nor touched it since I dressed for dinner," 
said Mrs. Carlyon. " It was on the dressing-table then. I daresay 
you have put it somewhere yourself" 

Higson, the patient, knew she had not, though she made no reply. 
She continued her search, Ella turning to help her. The maid's 
face gradually acquired a look of consternation. 

" It is certainly not here, aunt," cried Ella. 

'* What's that, my dear ? " asked Mrs. Carlyon, with a start, rousing 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 1 5 

herself from the half-doze into which she had fallen. '' I say that 
Higson must have forgotten what she did with it." 

But Higson had not. She assured her mistress that the jewel- 
box was left on the dressing-table. At nine o'clock, when she 
went in to prepare the room for the night, she saw it there, safe and 
untouched. 

Without another word, Mrs. Carlyon set to work herself. The 
dressing-room had two doors, one of which opened into Mrs. 
Carlyon's bed-room, while the other opened into the boudoir where 
the little group had assembled to examine Mr. Conroy's sketches. 
After searching the dressing-room thoroughly, and convincing herself 
that the case was not there, the bed-room was submitted to a similar 
process with a like result. 

Mrs. Carlyon grew alarmed. The case had contained jewels of 
the value of more than three hundred pounds, besides certain 
souvenirs pertaining to dear ones whom she had lost, which no 
money could have bought. As a last resource the boudoir was 
searched, although it was difficult to imagine how the jewel-case 
could by any possibility have found its way there. Satisfied, at 
length, that further search, for the present at all events, was 
useless, Mrs. Carlyon sat down with despair at her heart and tears in 
her eyes. ''Are the servants gone to bed yet?" she asked. 

Higson thought not. When she came up, they were clearing 
away the refreshments. 

" Go and call them," said her mistress, rather sharply. " But 
don't say what for." 

" Higson seems regularly put out," observed Ella, when the maid 
was gone. 

"Well she may be," said Mrs. Carlyon. ''She is a faithful 
creature, and has been with me nearly a dozen years. All my 
servants are faithful, and have lived with me more or less a prolonged 
time," she added, emphatically. "I could never suspect one of them ; 
but it is right they should be questioned. I could trust them with 
all I possess." 

The servants filed in, five or six of them, one after another : an 
expression on each face which seemed to ask, " Why are we wanted 
here at this uncanny hour ? " 

In a few quiet sentences Mrs. Carlyon detailed her loss, and 
questioned each of them in turn as to whether they could throw any 
light on the affair. One and all denied all knowledge of it : as 
indeed their mistress had quite expected that they would do. No 
one save Higson had set foot either in the bed-room or dressing-room 
since ten o'clock the previous forenoon. There was nothing for it 
but to let them go back. Higson, who was crying by this time, was 
told a few minutes later that she too had better go : Mrs. Carlyon 
would to-night undress herself. The woman went out with her apron 
to her eyes. 



1 6 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

" I shan't get a wink of sleep all this blessed night," she cried with 
a sob. "Hanging would be too good, ma'am, for them that have 
robbed you." 

Mrs. Carlyon and Ella sat and looked at each other. The uncer- 
tainty was growing painfully oppressive. Had there been any strange 
waiters in the house, they might have been suspected : but, except 
on some very rare and grand occasion, Mrs. Carlyon employed only 
her own servants. And those servants were above suspicion. 

" Was the door that opens from the dressing-room into the boudoir 
locked, or otherwise?" asked Ella. 

" To my certain knowledge it was locked till past ten o'clock : and 
I will tell you how I happen to know it," replied Mrs. Carlyon. 
"Sometime after the exhibition of Mr. Conroy's sketches I went 
into the boudoir and found it empty of everybody except Philip 
Cleeve; he was lying on the sofa with one of his bad headaches. 
Thinking that my salts might be of service to him, I came into 
the dressing-room to get them. I have a clear recollection of 
finding the door between the two rooms locked then. I un- 
locked it, and having found the salts, I went back and gave them 
to Philip; but whether I relocked the door after me is more than I 
can say. Probably I did not. After a few words to Philip I left 
him, still lying on the sofa, and did not go near the boudoir 
again. 

A pause ensued. It seemed as if there was nothing more to be 
said. Not the slightest shadow of suspicion could rest on Philip 
Cleeve ; the idea was preposterous. Both the ladies had known him 
since he was a boy, and his mother, Lady Cleeve, was one of Mrs. 
Carlyon's oldest friends. And, that suspicion could attach itself to 
any of the guests, was equally out of the qu-slion. Still, the one 
strange fact remained, that the casket could not be found. 

" We had bttter go to bed, I think," said Mrs. Carlyon at last, in 
a fretful voice. " If we sit up all night the case won't come back to 
us of its own accord." 

" I am ready to say with Higson that I shan't get a wink of sleep," 
remarked Ella, as she rose to obey. "One thing seems quite 
certain, Aunt Gertrude — that there must be a thief somewhere." 



CHAPTER HI. 

CAPTAIN LENNOX STARTLED. 

There were other people beside Mrs. Carlyon who had cause to 
remember the night of Ella Winter's birthday party. 

As already stated, Captain Lennox and Mr. Pootle left the house 
together. They were walking along, arm-in-arm, smoking their 
cigars, when whom should they run against but Philip Cleeve, who 
had bid them good-night half an hour before. 



1 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 17 

" Why, Phil, my boy, what are you doing here ? " cried Mr. Bootle. 
^' I thought you were off to roost long ago." 

'' I am taking a quiet stroll before turning in," answered Philip. 
" I thought the cool night air would do my head good, and I'm 
happy to say it has." 

*' Then you can't do better than come along to my hotel with 
Mr. Bootle," said Lennox. " Let us have one last bottle of cham- 
pagne together." 

Freddy seconded the proposition ; and Philip, who seldom wanted 
much persuasion where pleasure was concerned, yielded after a 
minute's hesitation. He had come up to London for a few days' 
holiday, and there was no reason why he should not enjoy him- 
self. 

A cab was called, and the three gentlemen presently found them- 
selves at the Captain's rooms. There they sat chatting, and smoking, 
and drinking champagne, till the clock on the chimney-piece chimed 
the half hour past two. By this time they had all had more wine 
than was good for them, Mr. Bootle especially so, while Philip was, 
perhaps, the coolest of the three. 

" We'll see him into a hansom and then we shall be sure that he 
will get home all right," whispered Lennox to Philip as they assisted 
Freddy downstairs. 

A hansom being quickly found, Mr. Bootle was safely stowed 
inside and the requisite instructions given to the driver. Then they 
all shook hands and bade each other good-night with a promise to 
meet again next afternoon. 

It was near noon the next day, and Freddy Bootle was still In bed, 
when some one knocked at his door, and Captain Lennox entered 
the room, looking well, but lugubrious. 

**Not up yet!" he said, in anything but a cheerful voice. *' I 
breakfasted three hours ago." 

"My head is like a lump of lead," moaned Freddy, "and my 
tongue is as dry as a parrot's." 

"Have you any soda; and where's your liqueur-case? I'll concoct 
you a dose that will put you right." 

"You'll find lots of things in the other room: but Lennox, how 
iresh jw/ look. You might never have had a headache in your life." 

"You are not so well seasoned as I am," returned Captain Lennox. 
" What business do you suppose has brought me here ? " 

"Not the remotest idea; unless it is to gaze on the wretched 
object before you." 

" Oh, you'll be quite well in an hour or two. Are you aware that 
I had my pocket picked of my purse while in your company last 
night or, rather, early this morning ? " 

Mr. Bootle stared at his friend in blank surprise, but said nothing, 

" It contained all the cash I had with me," continued the Captain ; 

VOL. XXIX. C 



1 8 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

" and I must ask you to lend me a few pounds to pay my hotel bill 
and carry me home." 

" Was there much in it ? " 

" A ten pound note, and some gold and silver." 

Mr. Bootle was sitting up in bed by this time, his hands pressed 
to his head, his eyes fixed intently on the Captain. " By Jove ! " he 
said, at last, and there was no mistaking his tone of utter surprise. 
" Do you know, Lennox, that your telling me about this brings back 
something to my mind that I had forgotten till now. I think my 
pocket has been picked. I have a vague recollection of not being 
able to find my watch and chain when I got home this morning, 
but I tumbled into bed almost immediately, and thought nothing 
more of the matter till .you spoke now. Just hand me my togs and 
let me have another search." 

Mr. Bootle examined his clothes thoroughly ; but both watch and 
chain were gone. The two men looked at each other in dismay. *' It 
was the governor's watch," said Freddy, dismally, " and I am uncom- 
monly sorry it's gone. Bad luck to the wretch who took it ! " 

" You had better get up and have some breakfast, and then we'll 
go down to Scotland Yard. The police may be able to trace it into 
the hands of some pawnbroker." 

" I shall never see the old watch again," said Mr. Bootle, with a 
melancholy shake of the head. " And as for breakfast — don't 
mention the word." 

At this juncture, Philip Cleeve came in, looking none the worse for 
last night's vigil. The story of the double loss was at once poured 
into his ears by Freddy. Captain Lennox noticed how genuinely 
surprised he looked. 

" You lost nothing, I suppose?" asked the Captain, in a grumbling 
tone, as if he could not get over his own loss. 

"Why, no," said Philip, with a laugh. " I had nothing about me 
worth taking — only a little loose silver and this ancient turnip — a 
family relic, three or four generations old." As he spoke he drew 
from his pocket a large old-fashioned silver watch, of the kind our 
great grandfathers used to carry, and held it up for inspection. 
"Almost big enough for a family clock, is it not?" he asked, with 
another laugh, as he put it away again. 

There was silence for a minute or two, Lennox seeming lost in a 
reverie. Then he turned to Bootle. "Do you recollect at what 
time during the evening you looked at your watch last?" 

" ISIy memory as to what happened during the latter part of the 
evening is anything but clear," said Freddy. " I seem to have a 
hazy recollection of pulling out my watch and looking at it when the 
clock in your room chimed something or other." 

" That would be half past two," interrupted Lennox. 

" But I can't be quite sure on the point. How about your 
purse ? — portemonnaie, or what it was ? " 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 19 

" As to that, I only know that I missed it first when I came to 
undress. I might have been relieved of it hours before, or only a 
few minutes." 

*' Don't you remember two or three rough-looking fellows hustling 
past us," asked Philip, " as we stood talking for a minute or two at 
the street corner just before Bootle got into the cab ? " 

Lennox shook his head. " I can't say that I recollect the circum- 
stance you speak of," he answered. 

" But I recollect the affair quite well," said Philip, positively. 
" One of the men nearly hustled me into the gutter. Nasty low- 
looking fellows they were. I think it most likely that they were the 
pickpockets." 

The Captain shrugged his shoulders, remarking that all he knew 
was that his money was gone ; he crossed the room, and began 
to stare out of the window. Freddy Bootle was looking dreadfully 
uncomfortable. 

" I am sorry that I can't join you fellows at dinner to-day," said 
Cleeve. " From a letter I received this morning I find I must get 
back home." 

"Oh! nonsense!" both of them interrupted. "That won't do, Cleeve." 

" It must do. My mother has written for me. She's ill." 

" You can go down the first thing to-morrow," said Captain Lennox. 

" A few hours can't make much difference," added Bootle. 

Philip shook his head. " When it comes to the mother writing, 
and confessing she is ill — which she never will confess — I know she 
is ill ; and she expects me. Perhaps I'll look in again on my way to 
the train," added Philip, as he went out. " I have a call or two to 
make first." 

In the course of the day the Captain and Mr. Bootle went down 
to Scotland Yard and reported their losses : though they both seemed 
to feel that their doing so was little better than a farce. They dined 
together afterwards, and went to the theatre. 

Next day the Captain's brief visit came to an end, and he travelled 
back into Norfolk. 

The evening clock was striking nine as Captain Lennox reached 
Nullington station. He secured the solitary fly in waiting, and told 
the driver to take him to Heron Dyke. Late though it was, he 
thought he would tell the Squire that his gift had reached Miss 
Winter safely. What with this robbery and that, it behoved people 
to be cautious. Dismissing the fly when he reached the gates of 
Heron Dyke, Captain Lennox took out his cane and a small hand- 
bag, and rang at the door. 

Everything looked dark about the old house. There was not a 
glimmer of light anywhere. The shrill clang of the bell broke the 
death-like silence rudely. Presently came the sound of footsteps, and 
then a man's voice could be heard as he grumbled and muttered to 
himself, while two or three heavy bolts were slowly, and, as it were, 



20 ' The Mjsteries of Heron Dyke. 

reluctantly withdrawn. " It's old Aaron Stone, and he's in a deuce 
of a temper, as he always is," said the Captain to himself. The great 
oaken door seemed to groan as it turned on its hinges. It was only 
opened to the extent of a few inches, and was still held by the heavy 
chain inside. 

** Who are you, and what do you mean by disturbing honest folk 
at this time o' night ? " queried a harsh voice from within. 

*' I am Captain Lennox. I have just returned from London, and 
I should like a few words with the Squire, if not too late." 

*' The Squire never sees anybody at this time o' night. You had 
better come in the morning, Captain." 

" I cannot come in the morning. I have a message for Mr. 
Denison from his niece, Miss Winter." 

**Why couldn't you say so at first?" grumbled the old man. He 
seemed to hesitate for a moment or two ; then he turned on his 
heel and went slowly away down the echoing corridor ; a distant door 
was heard to shut, and after that all was silence again. 

Captain Lennox turned away and whistled a few bars under his 
breath. The night was cloudy, and few stars were visible. Here 
and there one of the huge clumps of evergreens, in front of the 
house, was dimly discernible ; and against the background of clouded 
sky, the black outlines of the seven tall poplars, that stood on the 
opposite side of the lawn, were clearly defined. A brooding quiet 
seemed to rest over the whole place, except that every now and then, 
borne from afar, came the sound of a faint murmurous monotone, at 
once plaintive and soothing. It was the voice of the incoming tide, 
as it washed softly up the distant sands. 

Captain Lennox shivered, although the night was warm and 
oppressive. ''What a dismal place!" was his thought. '' I would 
far sooner live in my own pretty little cottage than in this big, ram- 
bling, draughty, haunted old house — and it has a haunted look, if 

house ever had and it ?>, if all tales are true. What was that ? " 

he asked himself, with a start. It seemed to him that he had heard 
the sound of stealthy footsteps behind him. His fingers tightened 
on his cane, and he peered cautiously around : but nothing was to be 
seen or heard. Again came the noise of a far-off door, and again 
the sound of slow, heavy footsteps across the stone-floor of the hall. 
Next mmute the chain was unloosed, and the great door opened a 
few inches wider. Then was the rugged face and bent form of old 
Aaron Stone discernible, as he cautiously held the door with one 
hand, while the other held a lighted lantern. 

" You may come in," he said, in ungracious accents. *' As you have 
brought a message from Miss Ella, the Squire will see you ; but it's 
gone nine o'clock. Captain, and he never likes to be kept up past his 
time — ten." 

Captain Lennox stepped inside, and the door behind him was 
rebolted and chained. The dim light from the lantern flung fantastic 



The Mysteries of Hero7i Dyke. 21 

shadows on wall and ceiling as Aaron went slowly along, but left 
other things in semi-darkness. At the end of a passage leading from 
the opposite side of the hall was a door, which the old man opened 
with a pass-key, and they turned to the right along a narrower 
passage, into which several rooms opened. At one of these doors 
Aaron halted, opened it, and announced Captain Lennox. 

The room into which Lennox was ushered, after leaving his hand- 
bag and cane outside, was a large apartment, with a sort of sombre 
stateliness about it which might be imposing, but which was 
certainly anything but cheerful. Cheerful, indeed, on the brightest 
day in summer it was hardly possible that this room could be. 
Its panelled walls were black with age. Here and there a family 
portrait, dim and faded, and incrusted with the accumulated 
grime of generations, stared out at you with ghostly eyes from the 
more ghostly depths of blackness behind it. Whatever colour the 
ceiling might once have been, it was now one dull pervading hue of 
dingy brown. Two or three Indian rugs on the floor ; a bureau 
carved with leaves and flowers, from the midst of which, queer 
faces peeped out ; two or three tables with twisted legs ; an Oriental 
jar or two, and a few straight-backed chairs, formed, with two ex- 
ceptions, the sole furniture of the room. The windows were high and 
narrow, and three in number. They were filled with small lozenge- 
shaped panes of thick greenish glass, set in lead; through which 
even the brightest summer sunlight penetrated with a chastened 
lustre, as though it were half afraid to venture inside. It was night 
now, and in the silver sconces over the chimney-piece, and in th^ 
silver candlesticks on one of the tables, some half-dozen wax-candles 
were alight ; but in that big gloomy room their feeble flame seemed 
to do little more than make darkness visible. High up in the middle 
window was the family escutcheon in painted glass, and below it a 
scroll with the family motto : IV/iaf I have^ I hold. 

The two exceptions to the furniture were these : a high screen of 
dark stamped leather, the figures on which, originally gilt, showed 
nothing more than a patch here and there of their whilom lustre ; 
and a huge chair, which was also covered with the same dark leather. 
In this chair was seated the Master of Heron Dyke. The screen 
was drawn up behind him, and although the evening was close 
on midsummer, in the big open fireplace, in front of which he 
was sitting, the stump of a tree was slowly burning ; crackling and 
sputtering noisily every now and then, as though defying till the last 
the flames that were gradually eating it away. 

Gilbert Denison sat in this huge leather chair, propped up with 
cushions, his legs and feet covered with a bear-skin. The reader at 
first might hardly have believed him to be the fine young fellow he 
saw in London, sitting by his uncle's death-bed, Gilbert the elder. 
But forty-five years suffice to change all of us. He was a very tall, 
lean, gaunt old man now : so lean, indeed, that there seemed to be 



22 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

little more of him than skin and bone. His head was covered with 
a black velvet skull-cap, underneath which his long white hair strag- 
gled almost on his shoulders. He had bold, clearly-cut features, 
and must, at one time, have been a man of striking appearance. 
His cheeks had now fallen in, and his long, straight nose looked 
, pinched and sharp. His white eyebrows were thick and heavy, but 
the eyes below them gleamed out with a strange, keen, crafty sort of in- 
telligence, that was hardly pleasant to see in one so old. He was clad, 
this evening, in a dressing-gown of thick grey duffel, from the sleeves 
of which appeared two bony hands ; their long fingers were just now 
clutching the arms of the easy-chair, as though they never meant to 
loosen their hold again. Finally, on one lean, yellow finger gleamed 
a splendid cat's-eye ring, set with brilliants. 

Captain Lennox walked slowly forward till he stood close by the 
invahd's chair : for an invalid Mr. Denison was, and had been for 
years. The latter spoke first. "So — so ! You have got back from 
town, eh, and brought me a message from my little girl ? " said he, 
looking up at his visitor with sharp, crafty eyes. *' I hope that the 
London smoke and London hours have not quite robbed her of her 
country roses ? But sit down — sit down." 

*' Miss Winter could hardly look better than when I saw her the 
day before yesterday," replied Captain Lennox. " She desired me to 
present her dearest love to you, and to tell you that she would not 
fail to be back at Heron Dyke on Monday evening next." 

" I knew she would be back to her time," chuckled the Squire. 
" Though, for that matter, she might have stayed another fortnight 
had she wanted to." 

He had a harsh, creaking, high-pitched voice, as though there 
were some hidden hinges somewhere that needed oiling ; and it was 
curious to note that Aaron Stone's voice, probably from listening 
to that of his master for so many years, had acquired something of 
the same harsh, high-pitched tone, only with more of an inherent 
grumble in it. At a little distance, a person not in the habit of 
hearing either of them speak frequently, might readily have mistaken 
one voice for the other. 

" I fancy, sir," said the Captain, " that Miss Winter is never so 
happy as when at Heron Dyke. She strikes me as being one of 
those exceptional young ladies who care but little for the gaieties and 
distractions of London life." 

"i\ye, the girl's been happy enough here under the old roof-tree of 
her forefathers. She has been brought up on our wild east coast, 
and our cold sea winds have made her fresh and rosy. She is not 
one of your town-bred minxes who find no happiness out of a ball- 
room or a boudoir. But she is a child no longer, and girls at her 
age have sometimes queer fancies and desires, that come and go 
beyond their own control. There have been times of late when I 
have fancied my pretty one has moped a little. Maybe, her wings 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 2^ 

begin to flutter, and to her young eyes the world seems wide and 
beautiful, and the old nest to grow duller and darker day by day." 

His voice softened wonderfully as he spoke thus of Ella. He sat 
and stared at the burning log, his chin resting on his breast. For 
the moment he had forgotten that he was not alone. 

Captain Lennox waited a minute and then coughed gently behind 
his hand. The Squire turned his head sharply. " Bodikins ! I'd 
forgotten all about you," he said. "Well, I'm glad you've called 
to-night. Captain, though if you had come much later I should 
have been between the blankets. We are early birds at the Dyke. 
And she was looking well, was she ! — forgetting a bit, may be, the 
trouble here. You gave my little present safely into her hands, eh ? " 

" I did not fail to deliver it speedily, as I had promised. Miss 
Winter will tell you herself how delighted she was with its contents." 

The Squire chuckled and rubbed his bony hands. ''Ay, ay, she was 
pleased, was she ? I shall have half a dozen kisses for it, I'll be bound." 

The Captain rose to go. " I thought you would like to hear of 
her welfare. Squire, or I should not have intruded on you before to- 
morrow. And also that I had carried your present to her in safety. 
London seems full of mysterious robberies just now." 

" It's always that ; always that. I won't ask you to stay now," 
added the Squire; ''you must drop in and see us another time. There's 
not much company comes to the Dyke nowadays. But at odd 
times a friend is welcome, eh ? I've been thinking lately that perhaps 
my pretty one would be more lively if she saw more company : she 
finds it a bit drear, I fancy, since — since that matter in the winter. 
You, now, are young, but not too young; you have travelled, and 
seen the world, and you can talk. So you may call — once in a way, 
you know, eh — why not ? " 

As soon as Captain Lennox had gone Aaron came in. One by one, 
he slowly and with much deliberation extinguished the candles in 
the sconces over the chimney-piece, but not those on the table. He 
then proceeded to close and bar the shutters of the three high, narrow 
windows. It was a whim of Mr. Denison to have the windows of 
whatever room he might be sitting in left uncurtained and unshuttered 
till the last moment before retiring for the night. " I hate to sit in a 
room with its eyes shut," he used to say : and he never would do so 
if he could help it. 

The clatter made by Aaron roused Mr. Denison from the reverie 
into which he had fallen. He lifted his head and watched Aaron 
bar the shutters of the last window. "As I drove home this after- 
noon, master," said Aaron, " I saw two strangers loitering about the 
park gates. They crossed the stile into the Far Meadow when they 
saw me, and then they slipped away behind the hedges." 

" Ay, ay — spies — spies ! " said the Squire. " They are at their old 
tricks again ! — I've felt it for weeks. But we'll cheat them yet, 
Aaron — yes, we'll cheat them yet. Why, only an hour ago, when 



24 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 

it was growing dark, just before you brought in the candles, as I sat 
looking out of the middle window, all at once I saw a man's face 
above the garden wall, staring straight into the room. I stared back 
at it, you may be sure. But at the end of two minutes, or so, I 
could bear the thing no longer, so I up with my stick and shook it 
at the face, and next moment it was gone." 

" I should like to shoot them — and them that send them 1 " 
exclaimed Aaron, viciously. 

*' They'll prowl about more than ever till the next eleven or twelve 
months have come and gone," said the Squire. " If they could see my 
coffin carried across the park to the old church, what a merry show 
that would be for them ! — there'd be no more spying here then. 
That's ten o'clock striking. Put out the other candles and let us go." 
Captain Lennox left the hall, carrying his cane and his little bag, 
and set off homewards. It was a balmy June evening, and the walk 
through the park would be a pleasant one. As soon as the door 
was shut behind him he proceeded to light a cigar, and, after crossing 
the lawn and the old bridge over the moat, he turned to the left and 
struck into a narrow footpath through the park, which would prove a 
shorter cut to the high road than the winding carriage-drive. Dark- 
ness and silence were around him : the stars gave but little light. He 
seemed to follow the pathway by instinct rather than by sight. It 
was a thinner line of grass that wound like a ribbon through the 
thicker grass of the park. His own footsteps were all but inaudible 
to him as he walked. 

The pathway took a sudden turn round two gnarled thorn-trees, 
when all at once, and without a moment's warning. Captain Lennox 
found himself face to face with a dark-hooded figure — hooded and 
cloaked from head to foot — which might have sprung out of the 
ground, so silently and suddenly did it appear to his sight. The 
Captain, brave man though he was, felt startled, and an involuntary 
cry escaped his lips. The figure was startled too — it appeared to have 
been gazing intently at the windows of the house through the branches 
of the trees — and would have turned to run away. But Captain Lennox 
took a quiet step forward, and laid his hand upon its shoulder. 

" Who are you ? — and what are you doing here ? " he sternly 
demanded. 

The hood fell back, and in the dim starlight Captain Lennox 
could just make out the face of a woman, young and pale, her eyes 
cast pleadingly up to his own. 

" Oh, sir, don't hold me ! — don't keep me ! " was the answer, given 
in a tone of wailing entreaty, though the voice was one of singular 
sweetness. " Please let me go ! " 

" What are you doing here ? " he reiterated, still keeping his hold 
upon her. ** What were you peeping at the house for ? " 

" I am looking for Katherine," whispered the girl. " I come here 
often to look for her." 



TJie Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 25 

" For Katherine ! — and who is Katherine ? " asked Captain Lennox. 
But the next moment he remembered the name, as being the one 
connected with that strange mystery that so puzzled Heron Dyke. 

" For my sister," softly repeated the girl. " I do no harm, sir, in 
coming here to look for her." 

" But my good girl, she is not to be seen, you know ; she never 
will be seen," he remonstrated, a shade of compassion in his tone. 

" But I do see her," answered the girl, her voice dropped to so 
low a pitch he could scarcely hear it. " I have seen her once or 
twice, sir; at her own window." 

Perhaps Captain Lennox felt a little taken aback at the words. 
He did not answer. 

*' People say she must be dead ; I know that," went on the speaker 
in the same hushed tone. " Even mother says that it must be 
Katherine's ghost I see. But I think it is herself, sir. I think she 
is somewhere inside Heron Dyke." 

If Captain Lennox felt a shade of something not agreeable creeping 
over him, he may be excused. The subject altogether bordered on 
the supernatural. 

*' My poor girl, had you not better go home and go to bed ? " he 
said, compassionately. " You can do no possible good by wandering 
about here at this time of night." 

"Oh, sir, I must wander; I must find out what has become of 
her," was the girl's pleading answer. "I can't rest night or day; 
mother knows I can't. When I go to sleep it is Katherine's voice 
that wakes me again." 

" But " 

" Hark ! what was that?" she suddenly cried out, laying her hand 
lightly, for protection, on the Captain's arm. And he started again, 
in spite of himself. 

" I heard nothing," he said, after listening a moment. 

** There it is again ; a second scream. They were two screams, 
you know sir — her screams — I heard that snowy February night." 

" But, my good girl, there were no screams to be heard now. It 
is your imagination. The air is as still as death." 

Ere the words were well spoken, the girl was gone. She had 
vanished silently behind the thorn-trees. And Captain Lennox, 
after waiting a minute or two, and not feeling any the merrier for 
the encounter, pursued his walk across the park. 

Suddenly, however, as a thought struck him, he turned to look 
at the windows of the house. They lay in the shade, gloomy and 
grim, no living person, no light, to be seen in any one of them. 

" It is a curious fancy of hers, though," muttered the Captain to 
himself, as he wheeled round again and went on his way. 

{To be continued.^ 



26 



VERENA FONTAINE'S REBELLION. 

YOU have been at Timberdale Rectory two or three times 
before ; an old-fashioned, red-brick, irregularly-built house, 
the ivy clustering on its front walls. It had not much beauty to 
boast of, but was as comfortable a dwelUng-place as any in Wor- 
cestershire. The well-stocked kitchen-garden, filled with plain fruit- 
trees and beds of vegetables, stretched out beyond the little lawn 
behind it; the small garden in front, with its sweet and homely 
flowers, opened to the pasture-field that lay between the house and 
the church. 

Timberdale Rectory basked to-day in the morning sun. It shone 
upon Grace, the rector's wife, as she sat in the bow-window of their 
usual sitting-room, making a child's frock. Having no little ones 
of her own to work for — and sometimes Timberdale thought it was 
that fact that made the rector show himself so crusty to the world in 
general — she had time, and to spare, to sew for the poor young 
starvelings in her husband's parish. 

" Here he comes at last ! " exclaimed Grace. 

Herbert Tanerton looked round from the fire over which he was 
shivering, though it was a warm and lovely April day. A glass of 
lemonade, or some such cooling drink, stood on the table at his 
elbow. He was always catching a sore throat — or fancied it. 

" If I find the delay has arisen through any neglect of Lee's, I 
shall report him for it," spoke the rector severely. For, though he 
had condoned that one great mishap of Lee's, the burning of the 
letter, he considered it his duty to look sharply after him. 

''Oh but, Herbert, it cannot be; he is always punctual," cried 
Grace. " I'll go and ask." 

Mrs. Tanerton left the room, and ran down the short path to the 
little white gate ; poor old Lee, the letterman, was approaching it 
from the field. Grace glanced at the church clock — three-quarters 
past ten. 

*' A break-down on the line, we hear, ma'am," said he, without 
waiting to be questioned, as he put one letter into her hand. 
"Salmon has been in a fine way all the morning, wondering what 
was up." 

" Thank you," said Grace, glancing at the letter ; " we wondered 
too. What a beautiful day it is ! Your wife will lose her rheumatism 
now. Tell her I say so." 

Back ran Grace. Herbert Tanerton was standing up, impatient 
for the letter he had been specially expecting, his hand stretched 
out for it. 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 2/ 

*' Your letter has not come, Herbert. Only one for me. It is 
from Alice." 

*' Oh ! " returned Herbert, crustily, as he sat down again to his 
fire and his lemonade. 

Grace ran her eyes quickly over the letter — rather a long one, but 
very legibly written. Her husband's brother, Jack Tanerton — if you 
have not forgotten him — had just brought home in safety from 
another voyage the good ship " Rose of Delhi," of which he was 
commander. Alice, his wife, who generally voyaged with him, had 
gone immediately on landing to her mother at New Brighton, near 
Liverpool ; Jack remaining with his ship. This time the ship had 
been chartered for London, and Jack was there with it. 

Grace folded the letter slowly, an expression of pain seated in 
her eyes. " Would you like to read it, Herbert ? " she asked. 

" Not now," groaned Herbert, shifting the band of flannel on his 
throat. *' What does she say ? " 

*'She says" — Grace hesitated a moment before proceeding — 
" she says she wishes Jack could leave the sea." 

" I daresay ! " exclaimed Herbert. " Now, Grace, I'll not have 
that absurd notion encouraged. It was Alice's cry last time they 
were at home ; and I told you then I would not." 

" I have not encouraged it, Herbert. Of course what Alice says 
has reason in it : one cannot help seeing that." 

''Jack chose the sea as his profession, and Jack must abide by it. 
A turncoat is never worth a rush. Jack likes the sea ; and Jack 
has been successful at it." 

" Oh, yes : he's a first-rate sailor," conceded Grace. " It is 
Alice's wish, no doubt, rather than his. She says here " — opening 
the letter — " Oh, if Jack could but leave the sea ! All my little 
ones coming on ! — I shall not be able to go with him this next 
voyage. And I come home to find my little Mary and my mother 
both ill ! If we could but leave the sea ! " 

" I may just as well say ' If I could but leave the Church ! ' — 
I'm sure I'm never well in it," retorted Herbert. " Jack had better 
not talk to me of this : I should put him down at once." 

Grace sighed as she took up the little frock again. She remem- 
bered, though it might suit her husband to forget it, that Jack had 
not, in one sense of the word, chosen the sea ; he had been deluded 
into it by Aunt Dean, his wife's mother. She had plotted and 
planned, that woman, for her daughter's advancement, and found 
out too late that she had plotted wrongly ; for Alice chose Jack, and 
Jack, through her machinations, had been deprived of the greater 
portion of his birthright. He made a smart sailor; he was steady, 
and stuck to his duty manfully ; never a better merchant com- 
mander sailed out of port than John Tanerton. But, as his wife 
said, her little ones were beginning to grow about her; she had two 
already ; and she could not be with them at New Brighton, and be 



28 Verena Fontaine s Rebellion. 

skimming over the seas to Calcutta, or where not, in the Rose 
of Delhi. Interests clashed; and with her whole heart Alice 
wished Jack could quit the sea. Grace sighed as she thought of 
this ; she saw how natural was the wish, though Herbert did not 
see it : neither could she forget that the chief portion of the fortune 
which ought to have been Jack's was enjoyed by herself and her 
husband. She had always thought it unjust ; it did not seem to 
bring them luck ; it lay upon her heart like a weight of care. Their 
income from the living and the fortune, comprised together, was over 
a thousand pounds a year. They lived very quietly, not spending, 
she was sure, anything like half of it ; Herbert put by the rest. 
What good did all the money bring them ? But little. Herbert 
was always ailing, fretful, and grumbling : the propensity to set the 
world to rights grew upon him : he had ever taken pleasure in that, 
from the time when a little lad he would muffle himself in his step- 
father's surplice, and preach to Jack and Alice. Poor Jack had to 
work hard for what he earned at sea ; he had only a hundred and 
fifty pounds a year, besides, of the money that had been his mother's ; 
Herbert had the other six hundred and fifty of it. Bat Jack, sunny- 
natured, ever-ready Jack, was just as happy as the day was long. 

Lost in these thoughts, her eyes bent on her work, Alice did not 
see a gentleman who was coming across the field towards the house. 
The click of the little gate, as it swung to afcer him, caused her to 
look up, but hardly in time. Herbert turned at the sound. 

" Who's come bothering now, I wonder ? " 

*' I think it is Colonel Letsom," answered Grace. 

" Then he must come in here," rejoined Herbert. " I am not 
going into that cold drawing-room." 

Colonel Letsom it was ; a pleasant little man with a bald head, 
who had walked over from his house at Crabb. Grace opened the 
parlour door, and the Colonel came in and shook hands. 

" I want you both to come and dine with me to-night in a friendly 
way," spoke he ; " no ceremony. My brother, the Major, is with us 
for a day or two, and we'd like to get a few friends together to meet 
him at dinner." 

Herbert Tanerton hesitated. He did not say No, for he liked 
dinners ; he liked the importance of sitting at the right or left hand 
of his hostess and saying grace. He did not say Yes, for he thought 
of his throat. 

" I hardly know. Colonel. I got up with a sore throat this morn- 
ing. Very relaxed indeed it is. Who is to be there ? " 

" Yourselves and the Fontaines and the Todhetleys : nobody else," 
answered the Colonel. "As to your throat — I daresay it will be 
better by-and-by. A cheerful dinner will do you good. Six o'clock 
sharp, mind." 

Herbert Tanerton accepted the offer, conditionally. If his throat 
got worse, of course he should have to send word, and decline. The 



Verena Fontaine s Rebellion. 29 

Colonel nodded. He felt sure in his own mind the throat would 
get better : he knew how fanciful the Parson was, and how easily he 
could be roused out of his ailments. 

" How do you like the Fontaines ? " questioned he of the Colonel. 
*' Have you seen much of them yet ? " 

" Oh, we like them very well," answered the Colonel, who, in his 
easy nature, generally avowed a liking for everybody. " They are 
connections of my wife's." 

"Connections of your wife's!" repeated Herbert quickly. "I 
did not know that." 

" I'm not sure that I knew it myself, until we came to compare 
notes," avowed the Colonel. " Anyway, I did not remember it. 

Sir Dace Fontaine's sister married . Stop ; let me consider — 

how was it ? " 

Grace laughed. The Colonel laughed also. 

" I know it now. My wife's sister married a Captain Pym : it is 
many years ago. Captain Pym was a widower, and his first wife 
was a sister of Dace Fontaine's. Yes, that's it. Poor Pym and his 
wife died soon \ both of them in India : and so, you see, we lost 
sight of the connection altogether ; it slipped out of memory." 

*' Were there any children ? " 

*' The first wife had one son, who was, I believe, taken to by his 
father's relatives. That was all. Well, you'll come this evening," 
added the Colonel, turning to depart. " I must make haste back 
home, for they don't know yet who's coming and who's not." 

A io^N days previously to this, we had taken up our abode at Crabb 
Cot, and found that some people named Fontaine had come to the 
neighbourhood, and were living at Maythorn Bank. Naturally the 
Squire wanted to know who they were and what they were. And as 
they were fated to play a conspicuous part in the drama I am about 
to relate, I must give to them a word of introduction. Important 
people need it, you know. 

Dace Fontaine belonged to the West Indies and was attached to 
the civil service there. He became judge, or sheriff, or something 
of the kind; had been instrumental in quelling a riot of the blacks, 
and was knighted for it. He married rather late in life, in his forty- 
first year, a young American lady. This young lady's mother — it is 
curious how things come about ! — was first cousin to John Paul, 
the Islip lawyer. Lady Fontaine soon persuaded her husband to 
quit the West Indies for America. Being well off, for he had 
amassed money, he could do as he pleased; and to America they 
went with their two daughters. From that time they lived sometimes 
in America, sometimes in the West Indies : Sir Dace would not 
quite abandon his old home there. Changes came as the years went 
on : Lady Fontaine died ; Sir Dace lost a good portion of his fortune 
through some adverse speculation. A disappointed man, he resolved 
to come to England and settle down on some property that had 



30 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion, 

fallen to him in right of his wife ; a small estate called Oxlip Grange, 
which lay between Islip and Crabb. Anyway, old Paul got a letter, 
saying they were on the road. However, when they arrived, they 
found that the tenants at Oxlip Grange could not be got to go out of 
it without proper notice — which anybody but Sir Dace Fontaine 
would have known to be reasonable. After some cavilling, the 
tenants agreed to leave at the end of six months ; and the Fontaines 
went into that pretty little place, Maythorn Bank, then to be let fur- 
nished, until the time should expire. So there they were, located 
close to us at Crabb Cot, Sir Dace Fontaine and his two daughters. 

Colonel Letsom had included me in the dinner invitation, for 
which I felt obliged to him : I was curious to see what the Fontaines 
were like. Tom Coney said one of the girls was beautiful, lovely — 
like an angel : the other was a little quick, dark young woman, who 
seemed to have a will of her own. 

We reached Colonel Letsom's betimes — neighbourly fashion. In 
the country you don't rush in when the dinner's being put on the 
table ; you like to get a chat beforehand. The sunbeams were 
slanting into the drawing-room as we entered it. Four of the 
Letsoms were present, besides the Major, and Herbert Tanerton and 
his wife, for the throat was better. All of us were talking together 
when the strangers were announced : Sir Dace Fontaine, Miss Fon- 
taine, and Miss Verena Fontaine. 

Sir Dace w^as a tall, heavy man, with a dark, sallow, and arbitrary 
face ; Miss Fontaine was little and pale ; she had smooth black hair, 
and dark eyes that looked straight out at you. Her small teeth were 
brilliantly white, her chin was pointed. A particularly calm face 
altogether, and one that could boast of little beauty — but I rather 
took to it. 

Did you ever see a fairy ? Verena Fontaine looked like nothing 
else. A small, fair, graceful girl, with charming manners and pretty 
words. She had the true golden hair, that is so beautiful but so 
rare, delicate features, and laughing eyes blue as the summer sky. 
I think her beauty and her attractions altogether took some of us 
by surprise ; me for one. Bob Letsom looked fit to eat her. The 
sisters were dressed alike, in white muslin and pink ribbons. 

How we went in to dinner I don't remember, except that Bob and 
I brought up the rear together. Sir Dace took Mrs. Letsom, I think, 
and the Colonel Mrs. Todhetley ; and that beautiful girl, Verena, fell 
to Tod. Tod ! The two girls were about the most self-possessed 
girls I ever saw ; their manners quite American. Not their accent : 
that was good. Major Letsom and Sir Dace fraternised wonderfully : 
they discovered that they had once met in the West Indies. 

After dinner we had music. The sisters sang a duet, and Mary 
Ann Letsom a song; and Herbert Tanerton sang, forgetting his 
throat, Grace playing for him ; and they made me sing. 

The evening soon passed, and we all left together. It was a 



Verena Foiitaine's Rebellion. 

warmish night, with a kind of damp smell exhaling from the shrubs 
and hedges. The young ladies muffled some soft white woollen 
shawls round their faces, and called our climate a treacherous one. 
The Parson and Grace said good night, and struck off on the near 
way to Timberdale ; the rest of us kept straight on. 

"Why don't your people always live here?" asked Verena of me, 
as we walked side by side behind the rest. " By something that was 
said at dinner I gather that you are not here much." 

'' Mr. Todhetley's principal residence lies at a distance. We only 
come here occasionally." 

" Well, I wish you stayed here always. It would be something to 
have neighbours close to us. Of course you know the dreadful little 
cottage we are in — Maythorn Bank ? " 

" Quite well. It is very pretty, though it is small." 

" Small ! Accustomed to our large rooms in the western world, it 
seems to us that we can hardly turn in these. I wish papa had 
managed better ! This country is altogether frightfully dull. My 
sister tells us that unless things improve she shall take flight back to 
the States. She could do it," added Verena; "she is twenty-one 
now, and her own mistress." 

I laughed. " Is she obliged to be her own mistress because she is 
twenty-one ? " 

"She is her own," said Verena. "She has come into her share 
of the money mamma left us, and can do as she pleases." 

" Oh, you were speaking in that sense." 

" Partly. Having money, she is not tied. She could go back to- 
morrow if she liked. We are not bound by your English notions." 

" It would not suit our notions at all. English girls cannot travel 
about alone." 

"That comes of their imperfect education. What harm do you 
suppose could anywhere befal well brought-up girls ? We have been 
self-dependent from childhood ; taught to be so. Coral could take 
care of herself the whole world over, and meet with consideration, 
wheresoever she might be." 

"What do you call her — Coral? It is a very pretty name." 

" And coral is her favourite ornament : it suits her pale skin. Her 
name is really Coralie, but I call her Coral — just as she calls me 
Vera. Do you like my name — Verena ? " 

" Very much indeed. Have you read Sintram ? " 

" Sintram ! — no," she answered. "Is it a book ? " 

" A very nice book, indeed, translated from the German. I will 
lend it you, if you like. Miss Verena." 

"Oh, thank you. I am fond of nice books. Coralie does not 
care for books as I do. But — I want you to tell me," she broke off, 
turning her fair face to me, the white cloud drawn round it, and her 
sweet blue eyes laughing and dancing — " I can't quite make out who 
you are. They are not your father and mother, are they ? " — nodding 



32 Verena Fontaine s Rebellion. 

to the Squire and Mrs. Todhetley, who were on ever so far in front 
with Sir Dace. 

"Oh no, I only live with them. I am Johnny Ludlow." 

II. 
Maythorn Bank had not an extensive correspondence as a rule, 
but three letters were delivered there the following morning. One 
of the letters was for Verena : which she crushed into her hand in 
the passage and ran away with to her room. The others, addressed 
to Sir Dace, were laid by his own man, Ozias, on the breakfast-table 
to await him. 

" The West Indian mail is in, papa," observed Coralie, beginning 
to pour out the coffee as her father entered. " It has brought you 
two letters. I think one of them is from George Bazalgette." 

Sir Dace wore a rich red silk dressing-gown, well wadded. A 
large fire burnt in the grate of the small room. He felt the cold 
here much. Putting his gold eye-glasses across his nose, as he slowly 
sat down — all his movements were deliberate — he opened the letter 
his daughter had specially alluded to, and read the few lines it con- 
tained. 

"What a short epistle !" exclaimed Coralie. 

" George Bazalgette is coming over ; he merely writes to tell me 
so," replied Sir Dace. "Verena," he added, for just then Verena 
entered and wished him good morning, with a beaming face, " I 
have a letter here from George Bazalgette. He is coming to Europe ; 
coming for you." 

A defiant look rose to Verena's bright blue eyes. She opened her 
mouth to answer ; paused ; and closed it again without speaking. 
Perhaps she recalled the saying, " Discretion is the better part of 
valour." It certainly is, when applied to speech. 

Breakfast was barely over when Ozias came in again. He had a 
copper-coloured face, as queer as his name, but he was a faithful, 
honest servant, and had lived in the family twenty years. The 
gardener was waiting for instructions about the new flower-beds, he 
told his master; and Sir Dace went out. It left his daughters 
at liberty to talk secrets. How pretty the two graceful little figures 
looked in their simple morning dresses of delicate print, tied with 
bows of pale green ribbon. 

" I told you I knew George Bazalgette would be coming over, 
Vera," began Coralie. " His letter by the last mail quite plainly 
intimated that." 

Verena tossed her pretty head. " Let him come ! He will get 
his voyage out and home for nothing. I hope he'll be fearfully sea- 
sick ! " 

Not to make a mystery of the matter, which we heard all about 
later, and which, perhaps, led to that most dreadful crime — but I 
must not talk of that yet. George Bazalgette was a wealthy West 



Verena Fontame^s Rebellion. 33 

Indian planter, and wanted to marry Miss Verena Fontaine. She 
did not want to marry him, and for the very good reason that she 
intended to marry somebody else. There had been a little trouble 
about it with Sir Dace ; and, alas ! there was destined to be a great 
deal more. 

"Shall I tell you what /hope, Vera?" answered Coralie, in her 
matter of fact, unemotional way. " I hope that Edward Pym will 
never come here, or to Europe at all, to worry you. Better that 
the sea should swallow him up en voyage." 

Verena's beaming face broke into smiles. Her sister's pleasant 
suggestion went for nothing, for a great joy lay within her. 

" Edward Pym has come, Coral. The ship has arrived in port, 
and he has written to me. See ! " 

She took the morning's letter from the bosom of her dress, and 
held it open for Coralie to see the date, " London," and the signature 
" Edward." Had the writer signed his name in full, it would have 
been Edward Dace Pym. 

'* How did he know we were here ?" questioned Coralie, in surprise. 

"I wrote to tell him." 

*' Did you know where to write to him ? " 

*' I knew he had sailed from Calcutta in the Rose of Delhi ; we all 
knew that; and I wrote to him to the address of the ship's brokers 
at Liverpool. The ship has come on to London, it seems, instead of 
Liverpool, and they must have sent my letter up there." 

" If you don't take care, Vera, some trouble will come of this. 
Papa will never hear of Edward Pym. That's my opinion." 

She was as cool as were the cucumbers growing outside in the 
garden, under the glass shade. Verena was the opposite — all excite- 
ment ; though she did her best to hide it. Her fingers were restless ; 
her blushes came and went ; the sweet words of the short love-letter 
were dancing in her heart. 

*' My darling Vera, the ship is in ; I am i7t London with her^ and 
I have your dear letter. How I wish I could run down into Worces- 
tershire I That cannot he just yet : oicr skipper will take care to be 
absent himself^ I expect^ and I must stay : he is a regular Martinet 
as to duty. You will see me the very hotcr I can get my liberty. 
How strange it is yoic should be at that place — Crabb I I believe a 
sort of auut of mine lives there ; but I have never seen her. Ever 
yoicr true lover, Edward." 

"Who is it — the sort of aunt?" cried Coralie, when Verena had 
read out the letter; "and what does he mean?" 

" Mrs. Letsom, of course. Did you not hear her talking to papa, 
last night, about her dead sister, who had married Captain Pym ? " 

"And Edward was the son of Captain Pym's first wife, papa's 
sister. Then, in point of fact, he is not related to Mrs. Letsom at 
all. Well, it all happened ages ago," added Coralie, with supreme 
indifference, " long before our time." 

VOL. XXIX. D 



34 Vereiia Fontaine's Rebellion, 

Just so. Edward Pym, grown to manhood now, and chief-mate 
of the Rose of Delhi^ was the son of that Captain Pym and his 
first wife. When Captain Pym died, a relative of his, who had no 
children of his own, took to the child, then only five years old, and 
brought him up. The boy turned out anything but good, and when 
he was fourteen he ran away to sea. He found he had to stick 
to the sea, for his offended relative would do no more for him : 
except that, some years later, when he died, Edward found that he 
was down for five hundred pounds in his will. Edward stayed on 
shore to spend it, and then went to sea again, this time as first 
officer in an American brig. Chance, or something else, took the 
vessel to the West India Islands, and at one of them he fell in with 
Sir Dace Fontaine, who was, in fact, his uncle, but who had never 
taken the smallest thought for him — hardly remembered he had 
such a nephew — and made acquaintance with his two cousins. He 
and Verena fell in love with one another ; and, on her side, at any 
rate, it was not the passing fancy sometimes called by the name, but 
one likely to last for all time. They often met, the young officer 
having the run of his uncle's house whenever he could get ashore ; 
and Edward, who could be as full of tricks and turns as a fox when 
it suited his convenience to be so, contrived to put himself into 
hospital when the brig was about to sail, saying he was sick ; so 
he was left behind. The brig fairly off, Mr. Edward Pym grew 
well again, and looked to have a good time of idleness and love- 
making. But he reckoned without his host. A chance word, 
dropped inadvertently, opened the eyes of Sir Dace to the treason 
around. The first thing he did was to forbid Mr. Edward Pym his 
house ; the second thing was to take passage with his family for 
America. Never would he allow his youngest and prettiest and 
best-loved daughter to become the wife of an ill-conducted, penniless 
ship's mate ; and that man a cousin ! The very thought was pre- 
posterous ! So Edward Pym, thrown upon his beam ends, joined a 
/essel bound for Calcutta. Arrived there, he took the post of chief 
mate on the good ship Rose of Delhi, Captain Tanerton, bound for 
England. 

II. 

" What is this nonsense I hear, about your wanting to leave the 
sea, John? 

The question, put in the Rector of Timberdale's repellent, chilly 
tone, more intensified when anything displeased him, brought only 
a smile to the pleasant face of his brother. Ever hopeful, sunny- 
tempered Jack, had reached the rectory the previous night to make 
a short visit. They sat in the cheerful, bow-windowed room, the sun 
shining on Jack, as some days before it had shone on Grace ; the 
rector in his easy chair at the fire. 

*' Well, I suppose it is only what you say, Herbert — nonsense," 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 35 

answered Jack, who was playing with the little dog, Dash. *' I 
should like to leave the sea well enough, but I don't see my way 
clear to do it at present." 

" Why should you like to leave it ? " 

"Alice is anxious that I should. She cannot always sail with me 
now ; and there are the little ones to be seen to, you know, Herbert. 
Her mother is of course — well, very kind, and all that," went on 
Jack, after an imperceptible pause, " but Alice would prefer to train 
her children herself; and, to do that, she must remain permanently 
on shore. It would not be a pleasant life for us, Herbert, she on 
shore and I at sea." 

" Do you ever think of duty, John ? " 
" Of duty ? In what way ? " 

" When a man has deliberately chosen his calling in life, and 
spent his first years in it, it is his duty to continue in that calling, 
and to make the best of it." 

*• I suppose it is, in a general way," said Jack, all smiles and 
good-humour. " But — if I could get a living on shore, Herbert, I 
don't see but what my duty would lie in doing it as much as it now 
lies at sea." 

" You may not see it, John. Chopping and changing often brings 
a man to poverty." 

" Oh, I'd take care, I hope, not to come to poverty. Down, 
Dash ! Had I a farm of two or three hundred acres, I could make it 
answer well, if any man could. You know what a good farmer I 
was as a boy, Herbert — in practical knowledge, I mean — and how I 
loved it. I like the sea very well, but I love farming. It was my 
born vocation." 

" I wish you'd not talk at random ! " cried Herbert, fretfully. 
" Born vocation ! You might just as well say you were born to be 
a mountebank ! And where would you get the money to stock a 
farm of two or three hundred acres ? You have put none by, I 
expect. You never could keep your pence in your pocket when a 
lad : they were thrown away right and left." 

"That's true," laughed Jack. "Other lads used to borrow them. 
True also that I have not put money by, Herbert. I have not been 
able to." 

" Of course you have not ! It wouldn't be you if you had." 
"No, Dash, there's not a bit more; you've had it all," cried 
Jack to the dog. But he, ever generous-natured, did not tell his 
brother luJiy he had not been able to put by : that the calls made 
upon him by his wife's mother — Aunt Dean, as they still styled her 
— were so heavy and so perpetual. She wanted a great deal for her- 
self, and she presented vast claims for the expenses of Jack's two 
little children, and for the maintenance of her daughter w^hen Alice 
stayed on shore. Alice whispered to Jack she believed her mother 
was making a private purse for herself. Good-natured Jack thought 



36 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

it very likely, but he did not stop the supplies. Just as Aunt Dean 
had been a perpetual drain upon her brother, Jacob Lewis, during 
his lifetime, so she now drained Jack. 

" Then, with no means at command, what utter folly it is for you 
to think of leaving the sea ! " resumed the parson. 

"So it is, Herbert," acquiesced Jack. "I assure you I don't 
think of it." 

"Alice does." 

"Ay, poor girl, because she washes it." 

" Do you see any chance of leaving it ? " 

" Not a bit," readily acknowledged Jack. 

" Then where's the use of talking about it — of harping upon it ? " 

" None in the world," said Jack. 

" Then we'll drop the subject, if you please," pursued Herbert, 
forgetting, perhaps, that it was he w^ho introduced it. 

"Jump then, Dash ! Jump, good little Dash !" 

" What a worry you make with that dog, John ! Attend to me. 
I want to know why you came to London instead of to Liverpool." 

" She w^as laid on for London this time," answered Jack, 

" Laid on /'' ejaculated Herbert, who knew as much about sailor's 
phrases as he did of Hebrew. 

Jack laughed. "The agents in Calcutta chartered the ship for 
London, freights for that port being higher than for Liverpool. The 
Rose of Dellii is a free ship." 

" Oh," responded Herbert. " I thought perhaps she had changed 
owners." 

" No. But our broker in London is brother to the owners in 
Liverpool. There are three of them in all. James Freeman is the 
broker ; Charles and Richard are the owners. Rich men they must 
be!" 

" When do you think you shall sail again ? " 

" It depends upon when they can begin to reload and get the 
fresh cargo in." 

"That does not take long, I suppose," remarked Herbert, slight- 
ingly. 

" She may be loaded in three days if the cargo is ready and wait- 
ing. It may be three weeks if the cargo's not — or more than that." 

" And Alice does not go with you ? " 

Jack shook his head : something like a cloud passed over his 
fresh, frank face. " No, not this time." 

We were all glad to see Jack Tanerton again. He had paid 
Timberdale but one visit, and that a flying one, since he took com- 
mand of the Rose of Delhi. It was the old Jack Tanerton, frank of 
face, hearty of manner, flying to all the nooks and corners of the 
parish with outstretched hands to rich and poor, with kind words 
and generous help for the sick and sorrowful : just the same, only 
with a few more years gone over his head. I don't say but Herbert 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion, 37 

was also glad to see him ; only Herbert never displayed much glad- 
ness at anything. 

One morning Jack and I chanced to be out together ; when, 
in passing through the green and shady lane, that would be fragrant 
in summer with wild roses and woodbine, and that skirted Maythorn 
Bank, we saw someone stooping to peer through the sweetbriar 
hedge, as if he wanted to see what the house was Hke, and did not 
care to look at it openly. He sprang up at sound of our footsteps. 
It was a slight, handsome young man of five or six-and-twenty, 
rather under the middle height, with a warm colour, bright dark 
eyes, and dark whiskers. The gold band on his cap showed that 
he was a sailor, and he seemed to recognise Jack with a start. 
'' Good morning, sir," he cried, hurriedly. 

*' Is it you, Mr. Pym ? — good morning," returned Jack, in a cool 
tone. " What are you doing down here ? " 

" The ship's finished unloading, and is gone into dry dock to be 
re-coppered, so I've got a holiday," replied the young man ; and he 
walked away with a brisk step, as if not caring to be questioned 
further. 

" Who is he ? " I asked, as we went on in the opposite direction. 
" My late chief mate : a man named Pym." 
"You spoke as if you did not like him. Jack." 
" Don't like him at all," said Jack. " My own chief mate left me 
in Calcutta, to better himself, as the saying runs ; he got command 
of one of our ships whose master had died out there; Pym pre- 
sented himself to me, and I engaged him. He gave me some 
trouble on the homeward voyage ; drank, was insolent, and would 
shirk his duty when he could. Once I had to threaten to put him 
in irons. I shall never allow him to sail with me again — and he 
knows it." 

" What is he here for ? " 

" Don't know at all," returned Jack. " He can't have come after 
me, I suppose." 

" Has he left the ship ? " 

" I can't tell. I told the brokers in London I should wish to 
have another first officer appointed in Pym's place. When they 
asked why, I only said he and I did not hit it off together very well. 
I don't care to report ill of the young man ; it might damage his pro- 
spects \ and he may do better with another master than he did with 
me." 

At that moment Pym overtook us, and accosted Jack : saying 
something about some bales of *'jute," which, as I gathered, had 
constituted part of the cargo. 

'' Have you got your discharge from the ship, Mr. Pym?" asked 
Jack, after answering his question about the bales of jute. 
" No, sir." 
" No ! " 



38 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

*' Not yet. I have not applied for it. There's some talk, I fancy, 
of making Ferrar chief," added Pym. *' Until then I keep my post." 

The words were not insolent, but the tone had a ring in it that 
betokened no civility. I thought Pym would have liked to defy 
Jack had he dared. Jack's voice, as he answered, was a little 
haughty — and I had never heard that from Jack in all my life, 

" I shall not take Ferrar as chief. What are you talking of, Mr. 
Pym ? Ferrar is not qualified." 

" Ferrar is qualifying himself now; he is about to pass," retorted 
Pym. "Good afternoon, sir." 

Had Pym looked back as he turned off, he would have seen Sir 
Dace Fontaine, who came, in his slow, lumbering manner, round 
the corner. Jack, who had been introduced to him, stopped to 
speak. But not a word could Sir Dace answer, for staring at the 
retreating figure of Pym. 

"Does my sight deceive me?" he exclaimed. "Who is that 
man ? " 

" His name is Pym," said Jack. " He has been my first mate 
on board the Rose of DelJiiy 

Sir Dace Fontaine looked blacker than thunder. " What is he 
doing down here ? " 

" I was wondering what," said Jack. " At first I thought he 
might have come down after me on some errand or other." 

Sir Dace said no more. Remarking that we should meet again 
in the evening, he went his way, and we went ours. 

For that evening the Squire gave a dinner, to which the Fontaines 
were coming, and old Paul the lawyer, and the Letsoms, and the 
Ashtons from Timberdale Court. Charles Ashton, the parson, was 
staying with them : he would come in handy for the grace in place 
of Herbert Tanerton, who had a real sore throat this time, and must 
stay at home. 

But now it should be explained that, up to this time, none of us 
had the smallest notion that there was anything between Pym and 
Verena Fontaine, or that Pym was related to Sir Dace. Had Jack 
known either the one fact or the other, he might not have said what 
he did at the Squire's dinner-table. Not that he said much. 

It occurred during a lull. Sir Dace craned his long and pon- 
derous neck over the table towards Jack. 

" Captain Tanerton, were you satisfied with that chief mate oi 
yours, Edward Pym ? Did he do his duty as a chief mate ought ? " 

"Not always, Sir Dace," was Jack's ready answer. "I was not 
particularly well satisfied with him." 

" Will he sail with you again when you go out ? " 

" No. Not if the decision lies with me." 

Sir Dace frowned and drew his neck in asjain. I fancied he would 
have been glad to hear that Pym was going out again with Jack — 
perhaps to be rid of him. 



VerenoL Fontaine's Rebellion. 39 

Colonel Letsom spoke up then. *' Why do you not like him, 
Jack ? " 

'' Well, for one thing, I found him deceitful," spoke out Jack, after 
hesitating a little, and still without any idea that Pym was known to 
anybody present. 

Verena bent forward to speak then from the end of the table, her 
face all blushes, her tone resentful. 

" Perhaps Mr. Pym might say the same thing of you, Captain 
Tanerton — that yoic are deceitful ? " 

"I!" returned Jack, with his frank smile. "No, I don't think 
he could say that. Whatever other faults I may have, I am straight- 
forward and open: too much so, perhaps, on occasion." 

When the ladies left the table, the Squire despatched me with a 
message to old Thomas about the claret. In the hall, after deliver- 
ing it, I came upon Verena Fontaine. 

" I am going to run home for my music," she said to me, as she 
put her white shawl on her shoulders. " I forgot to bring it." 
" Let me go for you," I said, taking down my hat. 
" No, thank you ; I must go myself." 
*' With you, then." 

" I wish to go alone," she returned, in a playful tone, but one that 
had a decisive ring in it. " Stay v/here you are, if you please, Mr. 
Johnny Ludlow." 

She meant it ; I saw that ; and I put my hat down and went into 
the drawing-room. Presently somebody missed her ; I said she had 
gone home to fetch her music. 

Upon which they all attacked me for letting her go — for not offer- 
ing to fetch it for her. Tod and Bob Letsom, who had just come 
into the room, told me I was not more gallant than a rising bear. 
I laughed, and did not say what had passed. Mary Ann Letsom 
plunged into one of her interminable sonatas, and the time slipped on. 
"Johnny," whispered the mater to me, "you must go after 
Verena Fontaine to see what has become of her. You ought not 
to have allowed her to go out alone." 

Truth to say, I was myself beginning to wonder whether she 
meant to come back at all. Catching up my hat again, I ran off to 
Maythorn Bank. 

Oh ! Pacing slowly the shadiest part of the garden there, was 
Miss Verena, the white shawl muffled round her. Mr. Pym was 
pacing with her, his face bent down to a level with hers, his arm 
passed gingerly round her waist. 

" I thought they might be sending after me," she cried out, quit- 
ting Pym as I went in at the gate. " I will go back with you, Mr. 
Johnny. Edward, I can't stay another moment," she called back to 
him ; " you see how it is. Yes, I'll be walking in the ravine to- 
morrow." 

Away she went, with so fleet a step that I had much ado to keep 



40 Vereiia Fontaine's Rebellio7i, 

up with her. That was my first enlightenment of the secret treason 
which was destined to bring forth so terrible an ending. 

" You won't tell tales of me, Johnny Ludlow ? " she stopped to 
say, in a beseeching tone, as we reached the gate of Crabb Cot. 
*' See, I have my music now." 

" All right, Miss Verena. You may trust me." 
" I am sure of that. I read it in your face." 
AVhich might be all very well ; but I thought it would be more to 
the purpose could she have read it in Pym's. Pym's was a hand- 
some face, but not one to be trusted. 

She ghded into the room behind Thomas and his big tea-tray, 
seized upon a cup at once, and stood with it as coolly as though she 
had never been away. Sir Dace, talking near the window with old 
Paul, looked across at her, but said nothing. I wondered how long 
they had been in the drawing-room, and whether he had noticed her 
absence. 

It was, I think, the next afternoon but one that I went to May- 
thorn Bank, and found Jack Tanerton there. The Squire had 
offered to drive Sir Dace to Worcester, leaving him to fix the day. 
Sir Dace wrote a note to fix the following day, if that would suit ; 
and the Squire sent me to say it would. 

Coralie was in the little drawing-room with Sir Dace, but not 
Verena. Jack seemed to be quite at home with them ; they were 
talking with animation about some of the ports over the seas, which 
all three of them knew so well. When I left, Jack came with me, 
and Sir Dace walked with us to the gate. And there we came upon 
Mr. Pym and Miss Verena promenading together in the lane as 
comfortably as you please. You should have seen Sir Dace Fontaine's 
face. A dark face at all times ; frightfully dark then. 

Taking Verena by the shoulder, never speaking a word, he marched 
her in at the gate, and pushed her up the path towards the house. 
Then he turned round to Pym. 

" Mr. Edward Pym," said he, " as I once had occasion to warn you 
off my premises in the Colonies, I now warn you off these. This is 
my house, and I forbid you to approach it. I forbid you to attempt 
to hold intercourse of any kind with my daughters. Do you under- 
stand me, sir ? " 

" Quite so, Uncle Dace," replied the young man : and there was 
the same covert defiance in his tone that he had used the other day 
to his captain. 

" I should like to know what brings you in this neighbourhood ? " 
continued Sir Dace. "You cannot have any legitimate business 
here. I recommend you to leave it." 

" I will think of it," said Pym, as he lifted his cap to us generally, 
and went his way. 

''What does it mean, Johnny?" spoke Tanerton, breathlessly, 
when we were alone. " Is Pym making-up to that sweet girl ? 



Verena Fontaine'' s Rebellion. 4 1 

' I fancy so. Wanting to make up, at least." 

" Heaven help her, then ! It's like his impudence." 

" They are first cousins, you see." 

" So much the worse. I expect, though, Pym will find his match 
in Sir Dace. I don't like him, by the way, Johnny." 

"Whom? Pym?" 

" Sir Dace. I don't like his countenance : there's too much 
secretiveness in it for me. And in himself too, unless I am mis- 
taken." 

" I am sure there is in Pym." 

" I hate Pymx ! " flashed Jack. And at the moment he^looked as 
if he did. 

But would he have acknowledged as much, even to me, had he 
foreseen the cruel fate that was, all too soon, to place Edward Pym 

beyond the pale of this world's hate ? and the dark trouble it 

would bring home to himself, John Tanerton ? 

Johnny Ludlow. 

A HAPPY NEW YEAR. 

Away in the east a silver awning. 

And stars grown pale in the gathering light : 

The New Year comes with the day that's dawning ; 
The Old Year dies with the dying night. 

" A Happy New Year," say the children's voices. 

We smile, and, it may be, smother a sigh. 
*' A Happy New Year" — all the earth rejoices. 

And wherefore, good brother, not you and I ? 

"Ah ! " you answer, "the young remember 

Nought but the sunshine and flowers of May ; 

For us the year has a grim November, 
And many a dark and sorrowful day." 

What then ? if our eyes are ever turning 
To seek the spot where the shadows hide ; 

Better the children's faith be learning. 
And look, like them, on the sunny side. 

Only now to our wider vision 

Mirth and woe are a tangled skein : 
We dream no more of a joy elysian. 

Save in the Heaven we hope to gain. 

Yet, thank God, the old earth rejoices, 
Hope can whisper, sweet memories cheer ; 

And, at the sound of our loved ones' voices, 
We too echo — "A Happy New Year !" 

Sydney Grey. 



42 



ABOUT NORWAY. 

By Charles W. Wood. 




N 



Old Storehouse in Norwa\. 



OT a land flowing 
with milk and 
honey : not a land of 
olive-yards and vineyards; 
of southern skies and 
effeminate luxuriance ; of 
Spanish dances, and Ita- 
lian serenades ; of soft in- 
trigues and quick revenges 
that wait upon life itself. 
Not a land of fragrant 
breezes, where the night- 
ingale sings to its mate, 
whilst the moon with her 
train of satehites in stately 
dignity rises in the dark 
blue dome, bathing the 
earth in a silvery flood, 
the while lovers pace ro- 
mantic ruins washed by a 
broad flowing Rhine, or a sterner Danube ; or linger in the bowers 
on the banks of the soft blue waters of a Moselle : lovers whose 
lips are silent for a bliss that is fiUing their hearts with an emotion, 
for which an eternity would be too short, and life, alas, olten proves 
but too long. Not this. But a land of eternal snows, whose 
mountain tops are fraught with the mystery of a silence that is 
never broken, where the foot of man never falls : of gigantic ice- 
bergs, of rushing streams, of grand waterfalls and mighty cataracts 
that seem to increase and multiply as you progress through the 
country. A land which owes everything to nature and nothing 
to man : where ruins are not, and the nightingale's song is un- 
heard, and bowers of roses may be read about, but scarcely seen. 
A land scantily peopled, but peopled by men and women honest 
and fearless, simple and genuine, frank and hospitable — until a 
day will come when mixture with the world which seeks them 
more and more year by year, may give them the faults of that 
world, and take from them their best heritage — a single eye, a 
simple faith, an uprightness of purpose rare as beautiful after six 
thousand years of levelling. A land where railroads are scarce, and 
travelling is long and laborious, but very pleasant. A land not pam- 



About Norway, 43 

pered by the refined luxury of the age, the squandering of wealth in 
pomp and vanity, purple and fine linen : but a land of stern realities, 
where wealth is rare, and each man's inheritance is labour and toil. 
A land with bright, bracing air ; a coast, iron-bound and full of 
wonders. A land that reminds us in a measure of that City that 
hath no foundations, where there is " no night ;" for here, during 
some portion of the year, the sun never sets, and darkness falls not. 

For such a land, one fine day — it was the 20th of June and a 
Friday — the good ship Cameo left the docks of Millvvall. That very 
morning had first brought the sad news of the death of the Prince 
Imperial : news that cast a gloom over the journey and haunted one 
long afterwards ; rising up unbidden like a hideous phantom, alike in 
the active daylight hours, or the quiet, wakeful moments of the night. 
This ghostly shadow of a terrible visitation haunted our voyage, 
but there was nothing else to cast a gloom upon the voyage itself. 
The day was bright and sunny, in a month and a year whose bright 
and sunny days had been like the recorded visits of angels — few and 
far between. Ay, recorded : for who knows how often angels visit 
each one of us, unsuspected even by ourselves, but bearing fruit for 
a future harvest? 

We passed through the dock gates with solemn difficulty : as 
usual, barges and other small craft seemed to have come up there 
for the undivided purpose of retarding our progress. But we were 
out in the broad, open river at last, and steaming downwards to the 
music of hammer and anvil from the factories on the shore : music 
that may be heard a hundred times with a hundred fresh emotions : 
gaining all its enchantment from distance, and a certain sentimental 
feeling of affection for all things English and homelike that creeps 
into the heart of the outward-bound. 

It is all mournful and melancholy enough in itself, prosaic and 
matter of fact ; yet it all possesses a subtle exhilarating charm. It is 
the sense of surrounding life and motion that makes itself felt and 
realized : whilst we ourselves, in our rapid progress, seem to impreg- 
nate the very air with motion also : and the mind is doubly excited 
from the fact of being bound for that ever seductive goal, the shores 
of the Unknown. I had reached the steamer plunged in 
deepest melancholy, and for once almost realized the feelings of a 
certain friend who shall be nameless lest these pages meet his eye : 
one who is in the habit of forming plans for a holiday, puts his 
house in order, takes his ticket, enters the carriage, and just as the 
train is on the move, gets out and hies himself home again. Yet in 
all other conditions of life he is a sane man, whom to know is to 
esteem. 

On this occasion so confirmed was the melancholy, that but for 
A — 's presence, who declared that nothing should tempt him to go 
back, I should never that day have made one of the passengers of 
the Cameo. But with the sense of progress, the shifting scene, the 



44 AboiLt Norway, 

homeward-bound vessels passing us, so brimful of happiness that it 
spread itself abroad and became infectious, all melancholy disap- 
peared, and by the time we were well out at sea, had ceased to exist. 

There are two popular ways of reaching Norway from England ; 
the route by way of Hull, and that by way of London. Both 
routes are in the hand of the same company. From Hull the 
steamers start once a week, for Trondhjem and Bergen alternately : 
whilst a fortnightly steamer in addition starts for Christiania. From 
London the steamer starts only once a fortnight, for Christiania, 
calling at Christianssand on its way. The passage by way of Hull is, 
it need not be said, shorter than that by way of London. But to 
any one bound for Christianssand or Christiania, and starting from 
London or its neighbourhood, the latter route may safely be recom- 
mended. 

The Cameo was due at Christianssand on Sunday morning : at 
Christiania on Monday, about 7 a.m. The angry moods of the 
North Sea are a matter of history, and, like history, repeat themselves. 
But on this occasion the sea was calm and motionless as a river. 
The Cameo is an especially good sea boat : and nothing could exceed 
the poUteness and attention of Captain Langlands, who did all in 
his power to promote the comfort of his passengers. 

The compan)-, I hear, have one rule that is open to grave objec- 
tions. *' I tell it as 'twas told to me." I was assured of the correctness 
of the information, but have not positively ascertained it by enquiry. 
It is said that they leave the commanders of the ships to cater for the 
passengers, and to make what profit they can out of the transaction. 
The least consideration will shew the mistake of this arrangement. 
If complaints are necessary, few would like, from delicate motives, 
to appeal to the captain, with whom would lie the fault. They 
might, indeed, fare after the manner of a certain friend {jwt the one 
lately quoted), who, staying at Gastein for the waters, objected to an 
extortionate bill at Straubinger's hotel, and on requesting to be 
taken before the magistrate, was ushered into the presence of Strau- 
binger himself, who was landlord, magistrate, mayor, and all the civic 
bodies of the place rolled into one grand, magnificent whole ; made 
out his own bills, charged his own prices, held his own courts, heard 
his clients' appeals, and delivered sentences in his own favour. We 
have heard of a mock parliament, some ages ago : perhaps this is 
not the only mock court of the 19th century. To be quite fair, 
my friend tells me this happened ten years ago. It may be, that in 
the meantime, old Straubinger has shuffled off this mortal coil, and 
delivered his staff of office to another generation. Or, if still ruling 
the roost at Gastein, his conscience may have awakened to the error 
of his ways — his overcharges, and his abominable dinners, which 
resulted in impaired digestions — and he may be atoning for past 
shortcomings by over diligence and liberality in the present. If so, 
who shall say that the age of miracles is past ? 



About Norway. 45 

On board the Cameo — to return to our theme — there was little to 
complain of in the bill of fare : it was all that could be desired, at 
any rate in the matter of quantity; but, as the company already 
charge somewhat highly for the passage to Norway, it is their duty to 
provide themselves for the comfort of the passengers during the 
voyage. On the return journey from Christiania to Hull, by the 
Angela, we dined at one, as usual, and from that hour until half- 
past eight at night, when we landed, nothing whatever was provided 
by way of refreshment. Much quiet grumbling was justly the con- 
sequence, but not the only consequence. A large number of pas- 
sengers entered the station hotel in a condition that must sorely have 
taxed the resources of the larder of that comfortable inn, and the 
managers thereof might fairly have claimed from the company a 
double fee which they were considerate enough not to charge their 
guests. 

I had left London with only one settled idea in connection with 
Norway — a voyage to the North Cape. Having been considerably 
out of health for some time, this voyage was proposed as a means of 
restoration. It was at once bracing and interesting, combining all 
the advantages of a sea voyage without its monotony ; for, from the 
time you leave Christiania or Bergen, to the end of the journey, you 
never lose sight of land. Our first intentions had been to land at 
Christianssand, and await there the steamer for the North Cape. 
But before arriving at that port, we changed our plans, decided to 
go on to Christiania, and thence overland to Bergen, there taking 
ship for the longer sea voyage. 

Friday passed and Saturday, after leaving London, and still the 
sea was calm, and still we looked in vain for the rough waves of the 
Northern Ocean. Sunday morning rose fresh and fair. We gradually 
approached land, and about eleven o'clock found ourselves at anchor 
in the harbour of Christianssand. 

The town lay in front of us : on either side land stretched out 
low and green. To our left an English yacht was anchored, and the 
harbour contained a good many vessels and steamers, including a 
man-of-war. The water presented a lively appearance; flags were 
flying everywhere in honour of Sunday ; and over all was spread that 
quietness and repose, that seems to mark the day of rest at sea still 
more emphatically than on land. 

From our point of view the town looked primitive and orderly. 
We were to stay here some hours to land cargo ; small boats came 
about us, and soon after, on this Sunday morning, we set foot for the 
first tim.e on Norwegian soil. It was our first impression of Norway, 
our first experience of land, people, and customs, and curiosity was 
excited. 

Church was over when we landed : and in Norway, when church is 
over, Sunday is over for all religious purposes. The remainder of 
the day is devoted not to work, but to rest or recreation. If any 



46 



About Norivay. 



one is on a journey it is quite proper to travel on a Sunday. The 
people do not take off their best clothes or their national costumes, 
for the most part worn only on that day, but they meet at each other's 
houses, or take walks, or amuse themselves in a quiet inoffensive 
manner, until the hour comes for separating. On the highways and 
byways, you will meet lovers with arms intertwined and whispering 
sweet follies, just as in other countries ; for though so far north, and 
the land of snow and loud and long wintry blasts, yet all this fails to 
render them unsusceptible to the mesmerism of bright eyes, and 
each in turn falls victim to the influence of the tender passion. 

Only — their courtships are often slow and lengthened. It is not 
unusual, so it is said, for a youth to be wooing his bride elect for 




Winter Palace of the King, Chkistiania. 



ten or a dozen years ; so that when the marriage finally takes place, 
great and prolonged are the rejoicings. This is not marrying in haste 
to repent at leisure: and though, no doubt, there are bad natures and 
evil tempers which render many a home less happy than it might be, 
I fancy that divorce courts are as unknown as they are unneeded. 
For the most part m.arried life is happy and united, and the crimes 
and cruelties that mar many a home in more privileged lands, would 
fill the souls of these fair Northerners with astonishment. 

I doubt if a better first glimpse can be gained of a Norwegian 
town than that of Christianssand. It is so primitive, so character- 
istic, so typical of the country, that, in a moment, England and all 
things English fall from you as a mantle that is loosened, and you 
feel yourself at once on a foreign shore, clothed in foreign garb. 
Across the North Sea, England has followed you : English people 



AbotU Norway. 



A7 



have been around you : the English tongue has made itself heard in 
sounds more or less harsh according to the speaker. But, set foot in 
Christianssand, and at once, as it were with a magician's wand, 
scenes, impressions, thoughts — all change. 

So it was this morning. No English town exists bearing the 
slightest resemblance to Christianssand. The day was hot and 
bright ; the sun came out or went in, as thick white clouds drove 
across a sky of intensest, purest blue. This sky alone, was enough 
to raise the most drooping spirits, if such there had been, to a point 
of exhilaration. The streets were wide, white, and clean, running 
at right angles with each other. The houses were all, or nearly all, 
built of wood ; only a new building, such as a bank, here and there 







Summer Residence of the King, Christiania. 



standing out in the dignity of stone, fronted by oxydized railings 
looking like burnished silver ; grand, but not half so interesting and 
picturesque to an Englishman as the less pretentious structures. 

And as the houses are nearly all of wood, it necessitates constant 
painting. Most of them here were white, yellow, or blue gray, now 
and then a glaring red standing out as a tribute to the gaudy taste of 
its owner. The houses, for the most part, were of two stories, all 
more or less built after the same style, varying more in size than 
fashion. This produced a sameness of aspect that would probably 
soon become tedious : unless habit grew into second nature, as, alas, 
it often does in things of more moment than the form of a house, or 
the appearance of a street. Nevertheless, the general effect of 
Christianssand, as it stood out that Sunday morning in the hot sun- 
shine, was one of extreme brightness and lightness. Fresh, clean, 



48 About Norway. 

and airy, it seemed rather a model or toy town, than a town destined 
for the occupation, the daily lives of men, women and children. 

Cleanliness was a most prominent feature. Many of the houses, 
no doubt, are as old as the town itself, yet nearly all, in their fresh 
paint, looked but of yesterday. The windows were large, and elabo- 
rately set out. Fine curtains were displayed above and below, so that 
no one room seemed to have more honour bestowed upon it than 
another. From many of them beautiful plants grew and flourished, 
and expanded in these natural hot-houses : exquisite roses, and 
drooping fuchsias, and abundant geraniums arresting the eye and 
raising one's envy — for elsewhere, in the open air, flowers were not 
to be seen, much less bought. In some of the streets trees grew 
down on either side, casting their shadows athwart the* hot white 
roadway, and relieving the painful glare. 

Most of these streets were as deserted as a city of the dead. A 
cannon might have been fired with eyes closed, and done no harm to 
living soul. Quietness reigned pre-eminent. Here and there a head 
stretched from an open window, peering at the travellers through 
the blinds or amidst the roses, was all that could be seen of the 
13,000 inhabitants. It was brightened by the sunshine, but on a 
wet day it would be difficult to conceive anything more melancholy 
than the streets of this quiet town. Over and over again, as we 
threaded its thoroughfares, we congratulated ourselves on a change 
of plans ; thereby escaping the terrible dulness that must otherwise 
have been- ours for a few days whilst awaiting the arrival of the 
North Cape steamer, on her way from Christiania. 

We now saw, too, that to embark from Christianssand for the 
North Cape is a mistake. Setting aside other considerations, you 
have not the option of visiting several steamers, and choosing the 
one you prefer, as may usually be done in either of the larger ports. 
Christianssand is the fourth town in Norway, but the more impor- 
tant steamers merely call here on their way to and from other ports 
and countries. Its harbour, an excellent one and very picturesque, is 
of greater use to smaller vessels. A thriving trade, amongst other 
things, is done in lobsters, which are regularly sent over to England in 
large quantities. But they gain considerably in price in the English 
market. In Norway, a first-rate lobster may be bought for four-pence. 

Presently we came upon the Park : a small plantation something 
in the shape of a triangle, with a few avenues of trees, and beds 
enlivened by laburnums and rhododendrons : a place that gains 
much of its dignity from its name — a not uncommon type of anima- 
ted life, where occasionally an institution or a person flourishes like 
a green bay-tree, because the world, following suit like a flock of 
sheep, insensibly accords it a name that throws a glamour over the 
din of its sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. Here we came upon 
good deal of sounding brass in the shape of a military band, dis- 
coursing sweet sounds to a large gathering of people. 



About Norway, 49 

It was our first experience of a Norwegian crowd, and certainly a 
by no means unpleasant one. They were quiet and orderly to a 
degree almost amounting to " dull apathy," as is usual with the 
Norwegians. They have nothing of the pushing and scrambling, the 
rough boisterous mirth, so frequently the type of an English multi- 
tude. It would be impossible to imagine a Norwegian mob as- 
sembling in one of their own parks, ranting insane nonsense, and 
destroying everything around them. They know better, and have 
more sense. A large proportion of the people are inclined to 
republican ideas; but they let well alone, and are content to 
honour the powers that be. The keynote to the whole tenor of 
their lives was struck by a remark made by an intelligent Norwegian, 
who seemed to possess some standing in his country, as we were 
steaming one day along the Sognefjord. " It may be," he said, 
" that we all have our opinions upon many subjects, but we are most 
of us agreed upon this point — that since we have a king we must 
treat him as a king." 

The crowd in the park that Sunday morning listened to the 
music, and evidently enjoyed it. They were all dressed in their 
best ; and here we first learned the lesson, confirmed by after 
experience, that, once divested of their national costumes, the 
Norwegians, for the most part, resemble the English in their dress — 
possessing the same bad taste, the same inability to wear and put on 
their garments. This remark applies, of course, to the humbler 
classes, such as would be found in England on a Sunday morning, 
listening to a band of music. The girls, many of them servants of 
the town, were tawdry and draggletailed ; their head-gear, perched 
like beacons upon a rocL, decorated with feathers and flowers, and 
ribbons in extravagant profusion, the most gorgeous colours and 
most startling combinations. 

The costumes of the country visible to-day were few and disap- 
pointing. The most remarkable were a group of men and women 
belonging to a mountainous district. The men walked about in 
huge trowsers, which came up to their arm-pits, and buttoned round 
their chests. The women, to restore the balance of things, wore 
short petticoats, which amply displayed their heavy, ill-shaped 
limbs. Both men and women were awkward and ungainly in their 
movements, and from the low caste of their features, their hideous 
costumes, and stunted expression, they looked the very quintessence 
of an aboriginal tribe — a striking exception to the ordinary type of 
Norwegian peasant. 

The band played its selection in front of the garrison, and soldiers 
in dark uniforms — some with plumes in their hats, paraded about, 
as much to the admiration of the fair — and frail — sex, as if the scene 
had been Hyde Park instead of a quiet corner in Norway. Mean- 
while two of us found an entrance into the church, and went up into 
the gallery. It is called a cathedral, and Christianssand is the 

VOL. XXIX. E 




H 
< 

o 

z 

Q 
Q 



3 
w 

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About Norway. 51 

residence of a bishop ; but neither inside nor out could the edifice 
boast of any pretensions to architectural beauty. The whitewashed 
walls, and the yellow-painted pews, were of the stiffest order ; and 
over the altar, a badly executed relief that might have done duty in 
some Roman Catholic building, was somewhat in contradiction to 
the " severe " plainness of the rest of the church. The religion of 
Norway is Lutheran, and, perhaps, no country has less sympathy 
with Romanism, and in no country is Romanism making less pro- 
gress. Its forms and ceremonials, appealing to the senses rather 
than to the spiritual part of man's nature, has no attractions for 
this honest, simple-minded people. 

Quitting the church, and the park, we went through the de- 
serted streets to the river. Here ruin met the eye. A short time 
before, the rains had swollen the rapids and torrents; the waters 
poured forth their tributes, and the river became so swift in its 
course, that an immense number of logs, tearing through the water, 
dashed with such force against the bridge as to sweep it away. The 
river is wide here, and people wera crossing by means of a ferry 
until the mischief could be repaired. 

To-day the river had very much subsided, but the water was 
eddying and swirling round the stone pedestals, whilst pine logs 
drifted down in twos and threes and yet larger numbers. On the 
opposite shore were groups of houses and a garrison : quite a small 
town. We did not cross. Time was drawing on apace : it was 
scarcely prudent to put more land and water between us and the 
Caj?ieo. 

About four o'clock in the afternoon, the steamer started again, on 
her way to Christiania. Christianssand, her forts, houses, and har- 
bour, looked green, picturesque and lively, as we receded from the 
shores — more lively at a distance than in reality. But all was soon 
lost to sight, as we turned the corner and plunged into full speed. 
Rain now began to fall, and the brightness of the day was over. 

The next morning a very iQw of the passengers found their way on 
deck at four o'clock. We were now in the Christiania Fjord, whose 
beauties every moment disclosed themselves. On either side, the 
banks were clothed with green. Forests of pine grew in dark 
abundance ; villages nestled in the slopes ; here and there a small 
vessel stood in the stocks in a distant dockyard. Now the hills 
opened up, range beyond range, barren, or dark with pine trees, 
according to their nature. Many small islands were dotted about 
the water. At one point the Fjord narrowed, bringing the land 
very near to the steamer : then suddenly opened out again, broad 
and calm as an inland lake. 

At length, we came in sight of Christiania. Passing many houses 
beautifully situated, Oscarshall, the summer residence of the King, 
stood out, white and charming amidst a wealth of verdure, like a 
white jewel in a dark setting. This morning it looked hot and 



52 About Norway. 

dazzling in the brilliant sunshine. Onward yet, a short distance, and 
about seven o'clock, before us rose the mass of houses, the church 
towers and steeples of Christiania : and we came to an anchor. 

The Scandinavia Hotel had been recommended, but we afterwards 
found that the Victoria is the largest, is considered the best, and is 
most frequented by the English. The Scandinavia, however, proved 
very comfortable, and its chef-de-cuisine quite a cordon bleu. For 
my own part, I think it an advantage in many ways to stay at an 
hotel less frequented by the English than by the people of its own 
country. 

A first glimpse at Christiania showed it to be far less typical of a 
Norwegian town than Christianssand. The streets were wide, the 
houses most of them built of stone. The whole place looked 
flourishing, as befits a capital \ and, for Norway, fashionable. At 
the end of one long, broad thoroughfare, on an eminence, stands the 
winter palace. It would have been almost possible to fancy oneself 
in a small Paris or Brussels, but for the names over the shop doors, 
and the strange language that riiade itself heard in all directions. 

As soon as the steamer came alongside, she was boarded by a 
number of porters touting for work. The small details of most 
countries repeat themselves. One of the men seized upon our 
chattels, and in a few moments had stowed them away upon a truck. 
The quay, even at this hour, was crowded with people, and many of 
the shops were already open. The Norwegians make the most of 
summer and long days, and are then as early as in the dark winter 
months they are the contrary. We were soon marching beside our 
luggage, all restraint thrown to the v/inds, feeling free as birds of the 
air, all ceremony abandoned, a delightful sensation of liberty, com- 
bined with a longing for adventure reigning instead. 

We soon reached the hotel, which is centrally situated, and before 
long were enjoying our first Norwegian breakfast. After the simple 
fare on board, our table now seemed luxuriously furnished, and in 
the long, lofty dining room we felt once more able to breathe. 
Here, for the first time, we came upon boiled cream, a universal 
custom of the country. The cream is served cold, but has been 
previously boiled, perhaps to preserve it ; a process that spoils it 
or all tea and coffee purposes. But we were not in a humour to 
find fault with anything : we took our boiled cream thankfully : and 
presently asked for more. 

There is little in Christiania as distinctly Norwegian as in 
Christianssand. The wide, fashionable-looking streets, with their air 
of prosperity, are well paved and wonderfully clean. The large 
handsome houses are chiefly built of stone : for it is now against the 
law to build them of wood within the town. Here, as in Chris- 
tianssand, the windows are very large, so that you might as well live 
in a lantern as in some of the rooms. The shops, too, are large, 
and, as far as could be judged, quite as good as any other town in 



About Norway. 53 

Europe. Cats and dogs are at a premium, the latter especially, and 
it is against the law to take a sporting dog into the country : a law 
hard to be understood. 

Shopkeepers expect you to take off your hat upon entering their 
place of business, and think it quite as great a favour to serve as to be 
patronized. Their manners are generally polite and civil ; but a neglect 
to uncover the head, which may easily occur when pre-occupied by 
thought, will often lead to an abruptness and downright incivility that 
speedily brings you to a sense of your omission. The French have 
been considered the politest nation on the face of the globe, but the 
Norwegians are in advance of them in this respect. Half their time 
is taken up in bowing, which is carried to a most inconvenient excess. 
If you meet them twenty times in five minutes, twenty times you 
must acknowledge their salute, or be put down as a barbarian. As 
you treat them, so will they treat you. Politeness meets with its 
return ; but I doubt their understanding that persistent politeness 
will in time conquer the roughest exterior. 

Norway is a country without aristocracy. The only nobility, if 
there be any, are the humble peasants who live at many of the 
" stations" in the country : small farms that have descended in a 
direct line from father to son since the days when William the Con 
queror was as yet unknown in England. These are the " inheritors 
of the land." They are most of them poor, but proud, and their 
bearing has a certain dignity and freedom that causes some wonder 
until its source is known. The people are very much on an equality 
with each other; riches and education, more than the accident of 
birth, separating class from class. Such terms of respect as " sir" or 
" madam," known in England, do not exist in Norway, and the 
traveller must not take their absence amiss. They will not be used, 
except occasionally by those who have come into contact with the 
English and learned their customs ; and even then only when English 
is spoken. 

The Norwegians have, many of them, a habit of frowning and 
looking forbiddingly at a stranger. As it does not appear amongst 
themselves, it must be supposed to have been acquired in response 
to a manner that unhappily is not uncommon amongst a certain type 
of the English, when addressing persons they look upon as below 
them in the social scale. Gentleness and courtesy of manner, the 
" noblesse oblige" is not universally found in England. And again, 
many whose hearts overflow with kindness and goodwill, from a 
certain mauvaise honte, a wide-spread British characteristic, assume 
an abruptness of speech and action that leaves behind it an im- 
pression they would lament to produce. 

The Norwegians, innately, seem to possess nothing of all this. 
There is something very noble in their disposition, especially where 
it has been unspoiled by too much dealing with the outer world„ 
For it is to be feared, that as iron sharpeneth iron, so this 



54 



About Norway 



people, coming into contact with the sharpness and cunning of 
other nations, will lose much of their native simplicity and in- 
tegrity. Ten years hence, travelling in Norway will be as differ- 
ent from what it now is, as it is now unlike what it was ten years 
ago. 

In that first early morning, we went to the fish market in Chris- 
tiania, an interesting and uncommon sight to English eyes and ears. 
The fish men and women were all seated in their boats alongside the 
stone pavements, shut in from the outer water by great locks. 
Servants and house-wives, with great tin baskets hanging on their 
arms, were bargaining for the day's dinner. Codfish, mackerel, eels, 
and lobsters were in abundance. Anchovies — or a small fish so-called 
— might be counted almost by the million. The fish women with 




SlREET IN CHRISTIANIA. 



their loud voices were contending with their customers — as they 
have from time immemorial, and will to the end — about price. Now, 
one made believe to go away, when a desperate shriek would sum- 
mon her back, and fish and money would exchange hands, buyer 
and seller each looking thoroughly victimized. The sun was pouring 
his hot rays upon the sparkling water, in which the boats were 
bobbing up and down. At the stern of each boat a great bough was 
raised, as large as half a tree, and under the shade cast by the leaves 
sat the fish women. The greatest coquette could not have conceived 
a more striking effect, as the leaves glinted in the sunshine, and cast 
their quivering reflections over the women and their surroundings. 
Nothing could look more picturesque in its way. The scene was 
lively and enlivening : the water was full of animation : a babel of 
voices went on around, chattering and bargaining, interspersed with 
much laughter. Much of the fish was out of sight, swimming in the 



About Norway, 



55 



holds of the small boats, whence they were fished out with nets as 
required. 

These early mornings in the fish market are one of the distinctive 
sights of Norway; where people and customs join hands for the 
benefit of the traveller. As a rule our impressions have to be taken 
from the country alone. It is thinly populated, and you may journey 
many a mile and many a day, and thought, pleasures, and experi- 
ences must for the most part come from the grand hills and valleys, 
snow-capped or ice-bound or torrent-swept; the wonderful pine 
forests, the blue skies, the rarified air; great solitudes, wonderfully 




Ul,d House in Nokway. 



refreshing after the crowding and bustle of a great town. There for 
a time you escape from the world, and the mind recovers its tone, 
and gathers fresh force for the battle of life : for the struggle upwards 
and onwards amidst the downward influences that surround it on all 
sides. 



— 8^5<^^^ir*«flfeSdt>*-^ 



56 



A NIGHT IN A BALLOON. 
By Mary E. Penn. 

IT was Whit Monday ; a bright June day, some fifteen years ago. 
Evening was closing in, and the crowds of Whitsun holiday folks 
from the great midland manufacturing town of Hammerton — hard- 
worked mechanics and factory '"hands" for the most part — were re- 
turning by road or rail from their excursions in the environs. 

The people's park at Laston Hall was still thronged, however, for 
the annual fete was to conclude as usual, with a grand display of 
fireworks. All day the chief attraction had been the captive balloon 
in the lower grounds, but now that dusk was falling, the crowd had 
deserted the remoter parts of the gardens, and gathered about the 
terrace where the fireworks were to be displayed. 

There were still a few loiterers left in the pleasant, dusky paths, 
and among them was a couple whom more than one person turned 
to look after, struck by something of country freshness in their dress 
and appearance which was an agreeable contrast to the pallid faces, 
and tawdry finery of the Hammerton folks. They were George and 
Ellen Fielding. He, was a tall, well-made, bronzed-complexioned man 
of thirty, with the air of a prosperous farmer or small land-owner ; 
she, a fair-haired, sweet-looking, refined girl of eighteen, whose likeness 
to her companion showed her to be his sister. They, too, seemed to 
be making their way towards the terrace, but they walked slowly, 
and were talking gravely and earnestly. 

*' It is no use, Nellie," he was saying, in answer to some re- 
monstrance from his companion; "I must speak as I feel; and 
how can I help feeling bitterly towards the man who is doing 
his best to defraud me of my rights ? And I Jiad a right to the 
property John Lester left me. It was not a gift, but a compensation 
for my " 

" I know," the girl interrupted gently, " but that ought to have 
been stated in the will." 

** And because it was not, I must be robbed. Because of John 
Lester's neglect, I must be accused of fraud by his son ! I, who 
would scorn " 

" But he does not know you," she interposed again ; " these sus- 
picions have been suggested to him. If he knew you he could not 
believe it for a moment." 

He went on as if she had not spoken. " The ground I have cul- 
tivated — the house I have looked upon as my home, will be wrested 
from me, and I shall have to begin the world afresh. It is hard — 
hard ! " 



A Night in a Balloon. 57 

" The trial is not over yet," she reminded him. He shook his 
head despondingly. 

'' I know how it will end. Young Lester has money, friends, in- 
fluence, while I " 

His sister sighed; he heard it, and rousing himself from his de- 
pression by an effort, exclaimed remorsefully : '' There I go again ! 
harping on my grievance when I came here expressly to forget it, 
and making you as wretched as myself. Come, Ellen, let us see what 
is going on." 

They quickened their pace along the winding path, and presently 
emerged upon a small lawn, surrounded with palisadings. It was the 
place reserved for the ascensions of the captive balloon, which was 
now hovering above their heads, the light, elegant car depending 
from it, being only a {^.^n feet from the ground. 

Ellen Fielding uttered a cry of delighted surprise ; it was the first 
time she had seen a balloon so near. 

*' Two places left," said the custodian as they approached. 

George Fielding glanced at the car; one seat was already occupied 
by a young man of four or five and twenty, with a handsome, sunburnt 
face, and frank blue eyes. ■* 

"Two places," George repeated; ''would you like to go up, 
Nellie ? " 

She hesitated. " There is no danger, I suppose ? " 

" Not the least," the custodian assured her. " More than a 
thousand persons have gone up this summer, and they all came down 
again safe and sound." 

She still hesitated, but though she felt some timidity, the originality 
of such an adventure was tempting, and after a moment she turned 
to her brother, and declared herself ready to make the ascent. 

" Off we go, then, for a voyage in the air ! " he said, as he placed 
her in the car. 

Directly they were seated the custodian let out the rope, and the 
balloon began gently to ascend. 

When she felt it rising Ellen turned slightly pale, and could not 
suppress an exclamation. 

The stranger who sat opposite to her asked, smiling : " Are you 
afraid ? " 

His admiring glance brought the colour back to her face at once, 
as she replied : " A little, but I shall soon get used to it." 

** See," said her brother, " we are already above the trees." 

She looked down, and soon forgot her timidity in admiration of 
the scene. Beneath them, like a map in relief, lay the park and 
gardens, their whole extent visible at a glance. Immediately under 
the balloon was the terrace, covered by a dense crowd, whose murmur 
scarcely reached our aerial travellers. The air was pure and light, 
and of an exhilarating freshness. 

The girl turned to her brother with sparkling eyes. 



58 A Night in a Balloon. 

"Oh George, how beautiful!" And in a lower tone she added : 
*•' Don't you feel somehow calmer and happier than you did just now?" 

" Yes," he said smiling, " I do. I seem to have risen for the 
time above the troubles and turmoil of earth. But what is going on 
down there ? what a crowd there is on the terrace ! " 

" They are waiting for the fireworks," the young stranger observed. 

" Ah, there is the first rocket," exclaimed Ellen. " How pretty ! 
like golden rain." 

There was a pause; the balloon still ascended. No more fireworks 
appeared. 

" There seems to be something wrong," the stranger remarked, 
leaning over the car. " Look ! the framework which supports the 
'set pieces' has fallen down." 

"Just hark!" exclaimed George Fielding, "do you hear the people 
shouting ? and — why, they are tearing up the palisadings ! What 
does that mean ? " 

" It means that there is a riot, I'm afraid," the other returned. 
" They are a rough lot, those Hammerton folks, and I expect they 
are revenging their disappointment on the gardens." 

" Plow glad I am that we are not in that crowd," was Ellen's re- 
mark. 

" You have quite lost your fear, now ? " the young man asked. 

" Oh yes, I should like to go much higher." 

" We are almost at the end of our tether, I think," he replied. And 
even as he spoke, the balloon stopped. 

" What a view we have now !" George exclaimed. It was indeed 
a beautiful panorama that stretched beneath them, of hill and valley, 
field and stream, in the " leafy heart " of Warwickshire. TwiHght 
was stealing over the scene, idealizing its colours, and giving a 
dreamy softness to its outlines. The great prosaic town of Hammer- 
ton was only dimly discerned through its shroud of smoke. 

"Old Fuller was right," the stranger said, enthusiastically. "There 
is no county to beat Warwickshire. ' It is the Heart but not the 
Core of England, having nothing coarse or choky therein.' Are you 
like myself, a Warwickshire man ? " he added, turning to George 
Fielding. 

" Oh, yes, born and bred. I have spent here all the best years of 
my life — before it was spoilt by law-suits and the like," he muttered, 
half aloud. 

" Ay, they do spoil one's life. No one knows that better than I," 
the other returned quickly. 

" Are you, too, compelled to defend your rights in a court of law ? " 
Fielding demanded, looking at him with sudden interest. 

" Yes, and against an adversary who will do his best to rob me of 
them." 

" Like mine," responded the young farmer emphatically ; " and if 
he succeeds, I shall lose all." 



A Night in a Balloon. 59 

" Let us hope that he will not," was the stranger's reply ; '^ though 
I fear it is sometimes the case that law is stronger than justice ; par- 
ticularly when one has an adversary as unscrupulous as I believe 
mine to be." 

"Ah! I can sympathise with you," exclaimed the other. '' I see 
you too are at law with some Frank Lester — some heartless, unprin- 
cipled " 

" Frank Lester !" echoed the stranger ; " that is my own name." 

"Yours?" 

" Yes, and my opponent is George Fielding." 

For a moment the two men gazed at each other in silence, with 
mingled astonishment and hostility. Ellen was terrified. 

" George,"^she whispered, "pray do not " But he did not 

heed her. 

"Frank Lester," he cried suddenly, "what you said of me just 
now was a base slander, and I call upon you to retract it." 

" Not till you retract your expressions with regard to myself," the 
young man retorted, in the same tone. " It is false that I wish to 
rob you — false that I am " 

George Fielding half rose from his seat, but Ellen clung to his arm, 
trembling. 

" George — pray, pray control yourself!" she implored; "at least, 
do not quarrel here." 

" You are right, this is not the place for it," he responded, com- 
manding himself by an effort. " Time enough when we get to earth 
again." 

The balloon had now been some time stationary, and they were 
expecting every instant that it would begin its descent. But as the 
moments passed, and it still hung motionless, young Lester leaned 
over the edge of the car, and peered through the gathering shadows 
beneath. 

"Surely the man has not forgotten us," he muttered. 

" He is not there ! " Miss Fielding exclaimed. " The enclosure is 
empty." 

"The rioters have frightened him from his post," said her 
brother, " and look ! they are making a bonfire of the benches, and 
a band of them are running through the gardens, putting out the 
lamps." 

" They are under the balloon ! " cried Ellen, clasping her hands. 
"And now — ah, good heavens !" 

" What is the matter ? " 

" They — they are cutting the rope ! " 

" No — no j impossible ! " 

" Look ! " she gasped. 

The young men leaned out of the car, and saw it was but too true 
They shouted with all their might, waving hats and handkerchiefs, 
but it was too late. Believing the car to be empty the rioters had 



6o A Night in a Balloon, 

severed the ropes which held the balloon captive, and the latter, rising 
with prodigious rapidity, soon disappeared in the evening mists. 

At first they exhausted themselves in vain lamentations, but after a 
time a calm produced by prostration succeeded. They all three re- 
mained silent, motionless, apathetic. 

The terrible peculiarity of the situation was their utter helplessness. 
They could do nothing, they could hope for no assistance; they 
drifted at the mercy of blind chance. 

Ellen, half fainting, had hidden her face on the shoulder of her 
brother, who mechanically supported her with his arm, but was too 
stupefied to offer her any encouragement. 

Young Lester, who was seated opposite to them, glanced at the girl 
compassionately from time to time, but did not speak. There was a 
barrier of angry pride between the two men which kept them apart, 
even in their common danger. 

Meantime, the balloon, abandoned to the night breeze, drifted on 
at random, now cleaving the air with the swiftness of a swallow, then 
hovering majestically, like an eagle above its eyrie. Occasionally, 
Lester and Fielding looked over the edge of the car into the gulf of 
shadows beneath them, where they could just discern the vague con- 
fused lights which indicated towns and villages. But Httle by Httle, 
as the balloon ascended into the higher regions, these last traces of 
earth disappeared. The atmosphere became every moment more 
rarefied ; their breathing was oppressed ; there was a singing in the 
ears, and a painful tingling in every limb. Now, too, the air be- 
came so intensely cold that it seemed to freeze the blood in their 
veins, and a chill mist enveloped them on every side, like a ghostly 
curtain. 

Ellen, who had hitherto uttered no complaint, suddenly sank from 
the seat, on to the floor of the car. 

" Nellie, Nellie — what is the matter ? " exclaimed her brother, in 
alarm. 

"I am tired — and cold. I want to sleep," she murmured, her eyes 
closing. 

" Good heavens ! what shall I do ? If she sleeps she will never 
wake again. Ellen, look up — rouse yourself ! " 

But she remained motionless. He could not see her face, but her 
hands were damp and deadly cold. 

" Wrap her in this," said Frank Lester's voice, and looking round, 
Fielding saw that the young man had taken off his coat. 

" No, no, you want it yourself," he stammered, surprised and 
touched ; ^' she can have mine " 

** This is the warmest. Take it — I shall do well enough. I forgot 
till this moment that I had my pocket-flask with me," he added ; " if 
she can swallow a little brandy " 

He gently raised the girl's head, and supporting it on his knee 



A Night in a Balloon, 6i 

poured a few drops between her lips, then chafed her hands, bending 
his head to listen anxiously to the faint beating of her heart. 

" She is reviving," he whispered ; "if we can keep her warm she 
will take no hurt." 

As he assisted Fielding to draw the coat more closely round her, 
the latter's hand touched his. Yielding to a sudden impulse, the 
young farmer seized and pressed it. 

"Lester, you are a good fellow," he said, huskily; "if I had known 
you before I should not have said — what I did just now. Forgive 
me.' 

" There is nothing to forgive ; I was the most in fault," Lester 
answered quickly, cordially returning the pressure; "we have both 
been mistaken. Enmity is often the result more of ignorance and 
misunderstanding than of malice. Hush — your sister is recovering." 

" Yes, I am better now," the girl said faintly. " I heard what you 
have been saying, and I am glad — so glad you are friends. Per- 
haps," she continued solemnly, " perhaps we may never see earth 
again, and would it not have been terrible to have gone into the 
presence of God with hearts full of hatred and enmity ?" 

The men were silent, the minds of both were occupied with thoughts 
too deep for words. 

They felt calmer now. The reconciliation seemed to have given 
them fresh courage. Hitherto they had been isolated by hatred, now 
they were united by the common peril, and the better fit to endure it. 

So passed the long hours of the night. As dawn approached, the 
wind, which had hitherto borne them steadily upwards, gradually sub- 
sided, leaving the air calm, and the balloon began gently to descend. 
Hope returned to their hearts ; they waited anxiously for daylight. 

At length the " awful rose of dawn " unfolded in the East ; long 
rays of light shot upwards over the sky ; the grey clouds broke into 
bright bars and islets, floating in a golden sea ; and then, in all his 
majesty, up rose the sun. 

For them, it was like a resurrection. They were no longer alone 
in an abyss of darkness ; a blank, death-like void. The sun shone ; 
the earth still existed ! There, beneath them, were woods and hills, 
dewy meadows, and pastoral streams. 

A fresh, moist odour reached them from the fields ; the lark poured 
out his matin song, high up in the luminous air. 

Still the balloon descended ; and now they could distinguish houses 
and figures. Suddenly the farmer uttered an exclamation of joyful 
surprise. 

" Nellie ! look ! there is Ashwood church, and there — there " 

His voice faltered, he turned and looked at his sister, silently point- 
ing down. He had recognised his native village, and the fields of 
his own farm. 

Trembling with excitement she leaned over the edge of the car. 

" Take care," said young Lester quickly, drawing her back, and — 



62 A Nis^ht in a Balloon. 



<b»' 



perhaps from absence of mind — he kept his arm round her waist* 
" In five minutes we shall be on terra firma." 

The words had hardly left his lips when the balloon, which had 
hitherto steadily descended, began slowly to rise again, borne upwards 
by the gentle breeze. 

Ellen Fielding uttered a cry of despair, extending her arms as if 
she would have flown towards her home. 

" Is there no way of descending ? " the farmer exclaimed. 

" There is one," Lester replied, "but it is frightfully dangerous." 

" Anything is better than this torture." 

" Well, this is our last resource. Give me your stick." 

He rose cautiously to his feet, and raising the iron-shod walking- 
stick, tore the cover of the balloon. 

It seemed to utter a sigh, as the gas rushed out impetuously at the 
opening. There was a moment of terrible suspense, then the torn 
and shrunk balloon sank with frightful rapidity, as if it were falling 
through space. They closed their eyes, and gave themselves up for 
lost. 

All at once, there was a rushing, rending noise, followed by a 
violent shock. They looked up in terror, and found that the balloon 
had been caught by the upper branches of an oak tree, and the car 
hung only a few feet from the ground. 

Towards the close of a bright day, about a week after these events, 
young Lester, and George Fielding were seated at an open window 
in the house of the latter, whose guest the young man had been ever 
since their aerial adventure. 

Now that the first relief of their escape from peril was over, the 
farmer's mind had returned to its old pre-occupation, as his sister 
noticed with distress. 

His face was shadowed at this moment, as, leaning one elbow on 
the broad old fashioned window-sill, he looked out vaguely, between 
the geraniums and fuschias across the broad sunny meadows in front 
of the house. 

At length young Lester, whose eyes had followed his, asked abrupt- 
ly : " How far does your property extend ? " 

Fielding turned to him with a faint smile. " You' wish to know 
how much the richer you will be if you gain the suit." 

"On my honour I was not thinking of it," the young man returned, 
colouring. 

"You need not blush for it, if you were," his companion said 
quietly ; " everyone believes in the justice of his own cause. I will 
show you which is my property." 

And he pointed out, one by one, the woods, fields, and meadows 
which composed it. 

" It is in beautiful order," was Frank Lester's remark. 
* I have given it all my time and care. There are still many im 



A Night in a Balloon. 63 

provements which I hoped to make : but who knows," he added with 
a sigh, " how long I may be able to call it mine ? " 

As he uttered these words, Ellen entered. She looked agitated, 
and had a letter in her hand. 

'' Is it from Mr. Harding ? " he asked eagerly. 

"Yes it is from the lawyer," she replied. 

"Then the trial is over, and we shall know — give it me, Ellen." 

He extended his hand for the letter, but she seized the hand in 
both her own and said, with a glance at Lester: "Whatever the news 
may be, do not forget that you two now are friends." 

" Give me the letter," he repeated impatiently, disregarding her 
words. 

She drew back a step, looking at him earnestly. 

" George, have you so soon forgotten ? " 

There was a moment's pause, then his face changed and softened. 

"No, I have not forgotten," he answered and extending his hand 
to his guest he continued : " We left our enmity in the clouds, Lester, 
and we will not take it up again directly we find ourselves on earth. 
Whatever the verdict may be, it will make no difference in my feelings 
for you." 

" And for my own part I shall be almost content to lose the pro- 
perty if it gains me your friendship — and your sister's," replied the 
young man, with an eloquent glance at Ellen. She handed the letter 
to her brother,, who opened it with a steady hand, glanced over it, 
and looked up. 

" Lester, you are in your own house," he said quietly. 

" Then I have gained the suit ! " the other exclaimed. 

Fielding handed him the letter, but he threw it aside, unread. 

" A friend's happiness is worth more than a few acres of land," he 
said impetuously. " I entered your house as a guest ; I will not be 
the one to turn you out of it. This wretched law-suit shall be as if 
it had never been. We will do as we had better have done at the 
commencement ; submit the case to arbitration, and you shall select 
the umpire." 

" But I should not know whom to choose." 

Lester turned to Ellen, with a look full of tenderness. 

" Let the one to whom we owe our friendship rivet its links for 
ever, and make it easy for us to share this inheritance to which we 
have both a claim." 

" How can she do that ? " George Fielding demanded. 

" By making the friends — brothers." 

Fielding drew his sister to his side, looking down with a question- 
ing smile into her face. 

" What say you to that, Ellen ? " 

Ellen Fielding said not a word, but hiding her blushing face on her 
brother's shoulder extended her hand to Frank Lester. 



64 



BEETHOVEN'S PUPIL. 

IT was All Souls' Day. Groups of people might be seen passing 
through the Scottish gate at Vienna, wending their way through 
the suburbs, towards the village of Wahring, to the cemetery that is 
there. In pursuance of a time-honoured custom, they were about 
to pay a tribute of affectionate remembrance at the graves of their 
beloved dead. The cemetery is a retired spot, lying apart from 
the din and bustle of the city, in shady seclusion. But on this 
day its gilded gates were opened wide : many a one would visit the 
place with solemn feelings ere the sun set. 

On one of the paths might be seen a party of six young ladies, 
walking in pairs, with the order and precision of school-girls, followed 
by a lady-superior. They approached one of the most beautiful of 
the monuments, and when they reached it one of the girls stepped 
forward and laid a wreath of roses and immortelles at the foot of the 
memorial stone. It was Beethoven's grave. 

" Your friend sends this offering, and she hopes to see you soon," 
said the young lady, crossing herself reverently as she spoke. Her 
companions sprinkled holy water on the wreath and on the tomb. 
Then the lady-superior added "Peace be to his ashes," and a pious 
*' Amen " was echoed from the lips of her six pupils. With this the 
brief ceremony ended. 

After a pause they were turning to retrace their steps, when an 
elderly gentleman, who had been an unnoticed observer of the whole 
scene, drew near and accosted the lady-superior with the warmth of 
an old acquaintance. 

" What, you here. Baron S ," she exclaimed. " But no 

wonder, for you were one of his truest friends." 

"Alas! poor Beethoven!" returned the Baron: and once more 
they turned their tearful eyes towards the grave. "But pray tell 
me," continued he, " the meaning of your little ceremony which I 
have witnessed, not without emotion." 

The kindly eyes of the Baron rested as he said this upon the 
young lady who had brought the wreath, and she at once answered 
him frankly. 

" Every year, on this day, I place a wreath on the tomb of Beet- 
hoven ; to-day I have done so for the last time, for I am leaving the 
convent. The pious offering is made for a kind and dear old friend, 
the Countess Theresa Brunswick, who was Beethoven's pupil." 

Some few years after this little scene had occurred in the cemetery 
at Wahring, the young lady, who had borne the wreath on that occa- 
sion, was staying on a long visit with her now very aged friend, the 



Beethoven s Pupil. 65 

Countess Theresa Brunswick, and heard from her own lips many- 
particulars of her early life, and of her friendship with Beethoven. 

Born in the castle of her ancestors, Martonvasar, in Hungary, the 
Countess had been reared in the midst of aristocratic notions and 
pompous luxury ; but her mother knew the value of a good educa- 
tion, and no trouble was spared, in order to make her a highly 
accomplished woman. She was well-read in ancient and modern 
literature, painted admirably, carved with considerable taste and 
execution : but her highest gift was music. She is acknowledged by 
all her contemporaries to have been Beethoven's greatest pupil. 

One evening as her young friend sat at her feet, she began to 
relate the circumstances of her first introduction to the great 
master. 

" In those days," she said, '' we usually spent the winter at Vienna. 
Joseph Haydn was a frequent guest at our house, and my mother 
asked his advice in engaging an instructor in music for me. He 
promised that he would send a person whom he could highly recom- 
mend. The next day, a young man appeared with a letter from the 
old Maestro, and but for the introduction, his appearance at first 
sight would certainly not have been in his favour. 

" * He looks like a savage,' whispered my mother, and I smiled in 
acquiescence. He occupied a chair, which the servant had given 
him, with his eyes fixed on the carpet ; his hair stood upright over 
his wrinkled brow ; his mouth was compressed and drawn ; and he 
sat as if ready at a moment's notice to escape through the door. I 
could read a refusal in my mother's looks; for she was one who 
attached much importance to graceful and easy manners. 

" But gradually the scene changed. In the first place, my father's 
old dog, Hector, came from under the sofa, where he had retired, 
growling, as the stranger entered; having reconnoitred, he seemed 
to make up his mind at once that the professor was to be received 
as a friend. He approached his chair, wagged his tail as a sign of 
approval, and finally placing his beautiful head on one of the stranger's 
knees, looked up into his face, and seemed to wait to be caressed. 
The young man stroked and patted him with confidence, and, 
looking kindly at him, smiled. ' At any rate, he ca7i smile,' I said 
to myself. 

*' Another figure came now into the group ; my little brother left my 
mother's arm-chair, where she sat, stern as a judge. He, also, went over 
to the enemy; and, though nothing was said, yet he seemed to feel that 
he was welcome, as he took his stand by the gentleman's side. I 
remained near my mother, while the scene became so stamped on 
my mind that years afterwards I was able to paint it from memory.* 

" Nobody had as yet spoken a word, for my mother was reading 
Haydn's letter. At length she looked up and said, * Sir, what is your 
name ? The Maestro has neglected to mention it.* 

* This picture is still in possession of the family at Martonvasar. 
VOL. XXIX. F 



66 Beethoven's Pupil. 

" * That is very probable, madame, as I have not yet a name/ 
replied he, in a wonderfully melodious voice. 

" * How is that, sir ? Did I misunderstand you ? ' asked my 
mother, with her most stately air. 

" * Ah ! yes ! madame, what was I saying ? True ! my name is 
Beethoven.' 

" Hurriedly and nervously he uttered these words, and rising from 
his seat appeared to be meditating an immediate flight. How I 
ventured to stop him, I know not ; but I did, by saying : ' Herr 
Beethoven, I will take lessons of you ; I will be your pupil.' 

"My mother gazed at me for a moment, and then turning to the 
professor said, good-naturedly : ' Well ! the children and their dog 
have decided the matter for me. Those who can gain, at first sight, 
the love of children and animals, cannot have very bad dispositions. 
As to your capability as a teacher, I have Haydn's word for that.' 

" So the matter was settled : and many, many happy hours I passed 
with Herr Beethoven as a pupil, and afterwards as a friend." The 
Countess paused a moment, and a smile flitted across her 
countenance as she resumed : " There was one exception to the 
amicable nature of an intercourse, which nearly caused a separation at 
an early period of our acquaintance. 

" When I was about sixteen years of age everybody praised my 
progress in music, except Beethoven, and he found fault with me 
much less often than at first ; a fact which gave me more pleasure 
than all their praise. One day, however, I know not from what 
cause, the professor's irritability was great. My playing did not 
satisfy him at all. He rose from his seat, and paced the room with 
rapid strides. My execution did not improve in consequence, for I 
was almost crying with vexation. Suddenly, in a difficult part of the 
finale, I struck a sad discord. The next moment I felt a sharp 
blow on my hand, and an angry voice exclaimed : 'It is maddening 
to hear music tortured like this.' 

" I had uttered a cry and risen from my seat; when my mother 
entered the room. ' What has happened ? ' was her first enquiry. 

" ' Mamma,' stammered I, ' my bad playing has vexed my dear 
master.' 

" ' The Countess has received a slap on her fingers,' burst out 
Beethoven. 

" *' Herr Beethoven ! ' my mother exclaimed, her voice trembling 
(oh, how I feared that vibration in her voice !). 

" ' Mamma,' I cried, ' it did not hurt ! ' 

"'Nay, it did hurt,' exclaimed he, passionately, 'but not more 
than the discord.' 

" ' Herr Beethoven ! ' my mother commenced a second time : but 
he had vanished, leaving hat and cloak, and had fled from the room 
and from the house. 

" In a moment I ran after him with his hat, a servant following 



Beethoven s Pupil. 6/ 

me with his cloak. My mother standing on the stairs called with a 
loud voice, ' Theresa ! ' the only time she ever called in vain. I 
overtook my preceptor before he reached the gate, the servant placed 
the cloak on his shoulders, and I placed his hat in his hand. 

" For a moment he looked bewildered and astonished, and then his 
expression changed, as he said to me : ' You are an angel, and I am 
a bear \ forgive me ! ' and he stooped down and kissed my hand. 

" From that day we began to be friends. It took a long time to make 
my mother forget his rude treatment of her daughter ; but at length, 
at a soiree at Princess Esterhazy's, when Beethoven had enchanted 
everyone by his music, my proud mother was conquered. Going up 
up to him, she offered him her hand, saying : ' Theresa is right ! you 
are not like an ordinary man, you are a messenger from heaven ! ' " 

In the course of that long evening's chat with the aged Countess, 
by the fireside, the young lady discovered a secret : the secret grief 
of the Countess's life. She understood, from many things that her old 
friend said, that the pupil had learnt to love the Maestro with all her 
heart, but alas ! without return. Beauty was Beethoven's goddess, 
and though Theresa Brunswick had every other gift to make woman 
irresistible, that one she had not. 

The great musician loved the Countess Giulietta di Guicciardi, 
and he, too, loved in vain. To her he dedicated the " Sonata quasi 
Fantasia" in C sharp minor. She it was who, in 1801, lured him 
back for a time into society, from which his deafness had exiled him. 
He gave his heart to her. She admired his talents and flattered 
him ; but her heart, towards him at least, was hard as stone. 

Beethoven's home was solitary to the last. No one whom he 
cared for, was present to soothe his last illness, or to hear the last 
music that his fingers, with their magic touch, called forth from the 
keys. He was buried with princely splendour by his fellow-citizens ; 
but no wife or child followed him to the grave. Had he but loved 
Theresa Brunswick, how happy his life might have been ! 

The young lady ventured at last to whisper this. Even then, in 
her old age, a blush mantled in the face of the Countess, and with 
some sharpness she cried, " Peace, child ! " But, a moment or two 
after, regaining her wonted composure, she added : " Those whom 
God raises as high as Beethoven, to them He rarely gives what we 
call worldly happiness. Sorrow is the best discipline for those who 
are destined to be immortal." 



-^^tii^^iSf^^&SS^^^^^e^ 



6S 



A CHRISTMAS PARTY ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, 
AND WHAT CAME OF IT. 



•«O0- 



I. 

THE CHRISTMAS PARTY. 

I LIVE in an old dilapidated house, and I am alone. 
Alone — yes ! for all my relations are dead. Distant connections 
there are who will take this place after me : about them I have little 
concern. 

People say, " Having small means, why not move into a smaller 
house ? " 

I answer, Never ! There will be but one remove for me : for in 
this year of grace i860 I am old and alone. Besides, to leave the 
old house would be to lose my identity. Its large, low rooms, its 
great well-staircase, its out-of-date fireplaces, have been my fami- 
liars from girlhood. Leave these, and memory would lose its 
prompter ; interest in life — the only life I know, at least — would 
cease. " All houses where men have lived and died are haunted 
houses." That is true enough ; the marvel is to me that in these 
days, when every manor house has been ransacked for bygone mys- 
tery and murder, no one has raked up and shaken out the mystery 
and murder (presumably) which was discovered in this very house, 
and caused such a stir throughout East Kent, when my mother was 
widowed, some seventy years ago. 

Not that it happened then. Oh, no — years before ; but the last 
day in the old year always reminds me of it ; for it was on December 
31st, 1779, that the merry party assembled which led to such dire 
results. 

Assembled in this square, low room where I am sitting all alone ; 
where four massive beams meet overhead, and the frieze bordering 
the dark oaken panel runs into all kinds of fancies ; where birds of 
wonderful plumage wrought in stone are sitting on golden boughs in 
the fireplace, and in the centre is a prancing horse, the noted badge 
of the men of Kent. 

Shall I describe the house more particularly? An old, forgotten 
house, built in part of materials of a much older house, once stand- 
ing a quarter of a mile to the south. It has been altered repeatedly. 
The long roof pierced by gables, fresh windows inserted ; and the 
twisted chimneys are gone ; but the rooms, the dear old rooms, 
remain where all around has changed. 

You can see it as you pass along the South-Eastern Railway below 
Ashford, just as the Hne takes a dip as it skirts the garden wall ; and 



A Christmas Party One Hundred Years Ago. 69 

the old house buries its face as if it scorns to look upon such a 
modern enormity as a railroad. 

Not, indeed, on the iron horse came the guests to that Christmas 
party eighty years ago. Squire Barrel, from Chart, rode with his 
cousin on a pillion behind. Mr. Finch, Mr. Radcliffe, Mr. Toke, 
and Edward Bering were accompanied by ladies similarly mounted ; 
Edward KnatchbuU brought Matthew Breton and Thomas Knight in 
a great yellow chariot ; whilst Mr. and Mrs. Norwood, Dr. Whit- 
field, and young Elwick walked from the neighbouring town. 

In the house, in addition to my mother, there were staying two- 
middle-aged ladies, the Misses Tappenden ; Ellen S — , Lieutenant 
B — , and a youth named Tracy, supposed to be a cadet of a noble 
family of Irish extraction. 

Yet little was known about him. The master of the house, who- 
sometimes went to survey some property (as he said) on the coast, 
had recently returned with him. Yes ! with Tracy, whose presence 
had such baneful influence over one young life, and whose mys- 
terious death has been rehearsed by wakeful winds about this lonely 
house for many years. " Murder !" they still hoarsely shout over 
head amid tie-beam and rafter ; " Mystery ! " they softly whisper in 
this dark room where I am sitting. 

It is an idle fancy ; but guided by my mother's description so often 
repeated, I can place chairs where each person sat round the flam- 
ing hearth eighty years ago. To me their shadows still come and 
go in the twihght, and the boards creak and start as if the feet whicn 
have long walked into family vaults were yet careering round the 
spacious room. 

Warm was the welcome which all received on that eventful day. 
Since the cruel winter four years before, when Hogben the borsholder 
was found frozen stark and stiff in the adjoining "eighteen acres," 
the owner of this house had taken every precaution to keep out the 
bitter cold. Strips of carpet, sandbags and list concealed every 
crevice; great logs from Bockhanger burned in the hall, day and 
night; and yet the house even then was cold. To me it seems 
colder every year. 

I need hardly say that the ladies were " drest all in their best ; " 
one or two in sacques, and others in the large bell hoops just coming 
into fashion, with head-dresses of a corresponding size. Indeed, so 
ample were the dimensions of the ladies compared with the tight- 
fitting clothes of the gentlemen, that old John Shorter, of Bybrook, 
declared, when he joined the circle, that they all looked like turnips 
and carrots. 

Dinner was served at four o'clock. Heavy and substantial as the 
host himself, the only rarity being the red-legged partridge ; other 
game, with the meat and poultry, came from the estate ; and the pon- 
derous plum pudding, girt about with quivering sprays, formed of split 
quills and pendent almonds, had been boiling all the previous night. 



70 A CJu'istmas Party One Hundred Years Ago. 

My mother, who was seventeen, had only recently left school, 
and the feeling of liberty, and some deeper feeling besides, caused 
her to look back upon this as the dinner par excellence, altogether 
delightful. 

It was no secret. She was already engaged to the eldest son of 
her host, then, I am told, a youth whose genial good-nature and 
comeliness fairly atoned for lack of brightness of parts : in fact, my 
father was somewhat of a dunce. 

There was another engaged couple — pale Ellen S — , with the 
violet eyes, my mother's young cousin, fragile as a flower, a mere child 
in appearance, but even then impulsive and determined to a degree 
which showed where the shadow might fall. Poor Ellen ! she was 
the last of a family all grandly interred in their chantry at Brabourne ; 
but the land, like the line, has dwindled to six feet of earth. Her 
lover, Lieutenant B — , was a tall, stalwart fellow; had already seen 
active service, and was in a fair way to promotion. As a man of the 
world, he was more than a match for the apparently guileless girl, 
playing upon her credulity, probing her intellect, and half-amused 
with her sallies. But he little knew her ; and perhaps she dared not 
ask her heart if she really cared for the man who had flattered her 
by an assurance of his untiring love. 

Many were the jokes which circulated, with the wine, about the 
young people. They were toasted and pledged in all kinds of ways ; 
and although some of the remarks would rather shock the present 
Mrs. Grundy, they were then received with hilarity by all ; for people 
were easily amused, and broad humour prevailed some eighty years 
ago. And then the dancing in the withdrawing-rccm overhead ! 
Even now the tiny hooks remain which upheld the green garlands 
and festoons of bright ribands. Vane, the violinist from Ashford, 
could play only accompaniments suited to such antiquated dances as 
" Cuckolds all Awry," " Money Musk," " Mother Casey," " Ofl" she 
goes," and "Drops of Brandy;" and a strange mischance, causing 
much laughter, befell stout Mrs. Radcliffe, whose heated soles stuck 
to the waxed floor so pertinaciously, that she was obliged to leave 
them behind for the remainder of the dance. 

For those who did not dance, card-tables were placed in the busi- 
ness-room downstairs, for whist, quinze, piquet, and macao ; but the 
master of the house properly insisted that everybody, including the 
servants, should stand up in the large hall for " Sir Roger de Cover- 
ley." It was then, when Ellen S — and Tracy were partners, that my 
mother observed the shadow which soon fell so darkly on her young 
life. . . . She described Tracy afterwards often and minutely. 
His presence was deeply impressed on her memory. The strange re- 
ticence about his birth and connections excited her curiosity, whilst the 
startling manner of his subsequent disappearance haunted her. He 
was, and is, one of the phantoms peopling this deserted house. 

How well she noted his appearance that evening ! He was in- 



A Christinas Party One Hundred Years Ago, 71 

deed fair to look upon : a youth of slight build, and under the middle 
height ; but somehow one forgot his small stature in gazing upon a 
smooth face fit for the canvas of a Lely. The well-curved mouth, 
the nose slightly aquiline, the eyebrows boldly arched and meeting, 
and the eyes, those " windows of the soul," set like the stars in 
heaven's own azure ; that wavy hair, drawn stiffly back from the fore- 
head, in the ungainly fashion of the time, and formed into a knotted 
club behind, but which my mother declared had once been seen 
for a moment falling in massive folds over his shoulders. Ah, me ! 
that such more than earthly beauty has visited this now lone and 
deserted house! 

I said that Ellen S — and Tracy were partners, and right merrily 
went the dance; and, as " Sir Roger " demands constant activity and 
attention, no one but my mother observed the very close intimacy 
which was suddenly developed between these two. Elderly people 
soon tired, and others fell out of the ranks ; yet Tracy clung to his 
vis-a-vis ; and she, perhaps from a spirit of bravado, swept up and 
down the long hall, until the head refused to govern the feet, and 
Tracy bore her fainting to a bench. 

Dr. Whitfield was in the card-room — a mild-mannered gentleman 
of portly presence, with a voice like the rustle of a curtain. 

" Merely what we call hysteria," whispered he. 

" Humbug," rejoined the host, who did not understand the term, 
and who was really concerned. " John Toke, crack her knuckles, 
and pass a spill before her nose ; now, the brandy. There, I never 
knew that fail with the ladies," as the patient sighed and shivered. 

As my mother bent down with a scent-bottle, Ellen clasped her 
convulsively and murmured " Oh, Tracy — Tracy ! " 

" Hush," interposed my mother looking up, devoutly hoping that 
no one else heard the exclamation. Alas ! the person least to be 
desired. Lieutenant B — , was peering over her shoulder, with an 
anxious, troubled look. In a moment his brow furrowed, the thin 
lips were compressed, and his voice broke from him like the flash of 
a thunder-cloud : 

" She is coming to herself; " and he turned coldly away. 

The general company knew nothing of this. They saw only a 
giddy girl overcome with exertion ; afterwards laughing and talking, 
and blaming her own folly : and all were shortly interested in observing 
a custom which had never been omitted since the huge timbers of 
the house had been welded together. 

The curiously carved clock, on the first landing of the stairs, 
had given in halting undertone the hour of eleven, when the guests 
ranged themselves in the hall in a semi-circle, some on settles, some 
in fiddle-backed chairs, round the blazing fire. Mulled wine was 
served freely and conversation became animated. It was then that 
Betsy Tappenden, who had been peering outside at some Kingsnorth 
singers, came in with a face as white as her kerchief, vowing that she 



'J 2 A Christmas Party One Himdred Years Ago. 

had seen a ghost. There was a rush to the back door ; but nothing 
there was to be seen in the glimmering moonlight. 

Returning to their warm places, the conversation turned naturally 
upon ghosts. Mr. El wick had just heard in Bath, where it was the talk 
of the town, of a well-known nobleman who had died suddenly ; and 
whose ghost had appeared to a banker at the exact moment of his 
lordship's decease. The banker had taken a Bible oath of its truth. 
Mr. Whitfield remembered being called to stanch the wounds of a 
foot-pad, who declared before death that he had helped to waylay and 
murder " as fine a feller as ever carried flint," at the entrance to 
Ashford. " And, what is curious," added the doctor, " though no 
body has been found, the occupants of a solitary farm-house called 
Barrow Hill, at the west end, have frequently seen, so they say, a fine 
military man standing in the high road, who always disappears as 
they near him." 

Lieutenant B — , stationed in London the previous May, also 
astonished his hearers by a thrilling account of how he had seen 
thirteen convicts executed together at Tyburn, the eldest of whom, 
scarcely of age, had threatened to haunt the hangman during his mortal 
life and after. 

At this point the host started up, and reminding the company 
that it was close upon twelve, all arose, and, joining hands, formed 
a circle in the centre of the hall. Motionless they stood, and silent, 
like the shadows they shortly became, as old Father Time gave ari 
awful bound over the threshold. The firelight faltered and fell, the 
lamps seemed to grow dim, their faces whitened as spectres ; yet 
so still were they that the measured beat of the near hand pendulum 
seemed as the muffled knock of the new year waiting at the door ; 
and it was a relief when the clock began grudgingly to gasp out the 
remaining moments, and the old year was dead. 

Then everybody's tongue was loosed like their hands ; cheers, con- 
gratulations, and good wishes prevailed. 

One more custom followed. Who should let the old year out and 
the new year in. But beware : — 

** For he who opens first the door 
To let the new year tread the floor, 
Shall see misfortune at the fore. 

While he who bids the old year pack 
From open casement at the back, 
Of future years shall have no lack." 

*' It was all nonsense, merely a fond dame's distich," cried out Mr, 
Toke, turning the well-worn key, as the company pressed round the 
door. 

Tracy was about to pull it open. IMiss S — stept forward to lay 
her hand upon his shoulder. It was too late. 

" Who cares," shouted Tracy, swinging back the sturdy oak panels. 



A Christmas Party One Hundred Years Ago. 73 

Ellen shivered : it may have been from the east wind which 
came fiercely in ; but her face was white, and my mother fancied 
some secret fear possessed her. Was she right ? 

Out in the open air for a moment, with the young firs waving like 
plumes on either side, and the keen stars piercing their flakes of cloud, 
the large party stood listening. 

The bells of Aldington, Mersham, Sevington and Willesborough 
were ringing joyously on the last night of December eighty years ago. 



II. 

THE MYSTERY. 

The Christmas hospitality continued over Twelfth-night ; therefore 
the party, staying in the house, was not diminished for some days, 
during several of which nothing of importance occurred. The 
gentlemen, save Tracy, seemed well amused during daylight with 
horse and gun; indeed, there was a capital covert for snipe where 
the Ashford station now stands ; and I believe a special source of 
attraction (now properly condemned) was to be found at a lonely 
farm-house at Quarrington, where young Nat Bull had provided a 
cock-pit. 

Whilst my grandmother rigidly attended to domestic duties, the 
ladies were sometimes busy with stiff embroidery, my mother attempt- 
ing to copy an Italian design sent by Horace Mann to Linton ; but 
much of their morning was taken up in arranging the heavy mass of 
hair, pasteboard, and pomatum, which fashion prescribed for the head. 
Ellen S — was often absent, but not often alone : my mother, already 
old in thought, observed with much concern, a startling change in her 
conduct towards Tracy. 

Upon their first introduction, the young gentleman had treated Ellen 
somewhat cavalierly. Disposed to think perhaps, like many others-, 
that a singularly handsome person made up for want of attention 
or address, he had barely noticed the cordial greeting of this delicate 
girl. Somewhat piqued by his nonchalance, she had gone out of 
her way to show in what light estimation she held him. A toss of 
the head, a sarcastic smile, an affected air of abstraction, a hundred 
little points were devised, intended to pierce his self-complacency. 

My mother even rebuked her once for downright rudeness. Not 
that Tracy cared for the rudeness. He noticed nothing. There I 
fear lay the sting. Ellen showed her vexation to my mother. 

" Was ever a man so silly, so vain, so odd ! Such a selfish fellow, 
too — no feeling ! " 

** If," cried my mother laughing at this tirade, " you care so little 
for him, I wonder you talk so much about him." 

Whether Ellen saw that my mother divined the truth, that she 
was learning to love Tracy, and which she was unwilling to confess 



74 ^ Christmas Party One Hundred Years Ago. 

even to herself, one can only surmise, but no further suspicion was 
aroused until the fainting scene above described. After that evening, 
indications were not wanting to the observant, which showed pretty 
plainly how matters were tending. 

To Lieutenant B — Ellen submitted in company, listening to his 
opinions with a deference unusual to those who knew her : still the 
presence of Tracy seemed to exercise a fascination which she could 
hardly conceal. He was the magnet. His every movement and 
gesture she silently noted ; his words made her absent to all else. 
To him she turned those violet eyes almost pleadingly when he one day 
hinted at an early departure on the morrow. When he cut his finger, 
a mere scratch, in tracing with a diamond " memoria in seterna," on 
the window-pane, hers was the handkerchief which bound the wound; 
a handkerchief preserved ever afterwards. 

Hitherto her intended husband had apparently regarded Tracy as a 
" beardless boy," too young and distrait to be thought of as a rival ; 
but now the Lieutenant's spirit was moved, and notwithstanding out- 
ward calm, my mother felt certain that some denouement was near. 

On January 6th, 1780, a dull day with a leaden sky, and showers, 
half sleet, half rain from the south, the gentlemen had amused them- 
selves with the royal game of goose, and the ladies in looking over 
" The Morning Chronicle," and in laughing at the vagaries of Joanna 
Southcott. At noon the clouds lifted, and several started for a walk. 
Tracy went to Pousy's in Ashford about a saddle, and was deputed to 
ask several friends for the evening. Miss Martha Tappenden and 
my mother took a Christmas-box to Sally Chittenden, an old servant, 
living on the Lea, calling at Jenner's near the church, on their return. 
In crossing the churchyard, they paused to read a remarkable in- 
scription. Hearing voices in the porch (said my mother), my impulse 
was to move on quickly ; not so Miss Martha. With true feminine 
curiosity, she stayed to listen. The voices were those of Lieutenant 
B — and Ellen S — , and the latter was pleading piteously. 

" Oh, release me, I beg of you ! What is the use, when I cannot 
really love you ? " 

" Ellen, you loved me but a short while since." 

" I scarcely know. And when you asked me last July, I was 
so young ; and your mother pressed me sorely." 

" You have said that you loved me well. You are so soon 
changed ! " 

" Changed ? Well, I am changed. Oh, what — what am I saying ? 
Do release me from this engagement ! " 

" Release you ! Yes : when the winding-sheet wraps me round 
like this chilly snow. I have a right to know what this means. 
Do you love any other man ? " 

There was a pause. 

" If I thought that you dropped me — me, indeed ! — for that min- 
cing jackanapes at the Hall, I would take care that " 



i 



A Chinstmas Party One Htmdred Years Ago. 75 

At this moment my mother began to cry ; and, fearing discovery, 
Miss Martha Tappenden retired, doubtless reluctantly. It was thought 
she repeated the conversation to Tracy. During dinner and after- 
wards Tracy was unusually lively; in fact, quite the life of the 
party. Exerting his powers of conversation, he surprised all by a 
fund of anecdote and of foreign reminiscence, delivered without 
the admixture of those profane words, then common in society. 

Never had Tracy seemed so engaging. With sparkling eye, and 
fair cheek flushed with passing excitement, the voice musical and 
winning in its gentleness, and the proud lip curved half in disdain, 
he spoke. Little marvel, said my mother, that we weak women 
should admire him as if he were more than mortal, or that he should 
cross the dark horizon of Ellen S — as an angel of light. Once only 
did he speak directly to Ellen; it was in the drawing-room. She 
had left the spinet, and Edward Norwood was about to play on the 
violin, when Tracy advanced to her. 

*'Here is the handkerchief you lent me. Miss S — . I thank 
you." 

It was neatly folded, and my mother, sitting by, observed some- 
thing like the crumpling of stiff paper as Ellen hastily put it in 
her bag. What that was will be seen afterwards. Just before supper 
another visitor arrived ; Doctor Haffenden from Ashford, he having 
been called to a patient near. Whilst pleased to see him, my grand- 
father was greatly perplexed. There would be thirteen at the supper 
table, and he had a pious horror of sitting down with that number. 

" Not that / am in the least superstitious," he thought well to say : 
*' but upon the last three occasions when thirteen have been present, 
I have remarked that one of the party did die during the year." 

" What's to be done?" exclaimed his wife, in consternation. " Shall 
we have Tom Drayner in ? — or, perhaps, you had better sit out, 
Tracy." 

" Che sara, sara," muttered Tracy, taking a seat at a side table. 
*' If I were to jump into the saddle now, instead of six hours hence, 
I should best solve the difficulty " — and his brow darkened. 

Feeling sorry for his vexation, shortly afterwards when people 
were busy eating and talking, my grandmother's kind heart prompted 
her quietly to make room for him. One person, at least, noticed 
the ominous addition, Ellen S — ; and her face wore a wild, despair- 
ing look as Tracy calmly completed the fatal number, thirteen. 

That was an eventful night to my mother ; the particulars I give in 
her own words: 

" My bedroom had been changed, and, alone, I occupied one 
recently divided over the hall. I could not sleep : recent incidents 
tormented my brain. The agitation of Ellen on the old year's night 
— that colloquy in the church porch — the demeanour of Lieutenant 
B — , and the strange power exercised over her by Tracy — all seemed 
to point to coming harm. An undefined dread kept me awake ; so 



76 A Christinas Party One Hundred Years Ago. 

sfcill was I that my heart throbbed with painful distinctness. A tiny 
mouse, in its efforts to scale the water-jug, seemed like a burglar 
tampering with the lock of the door ; fancy, too, was at work. Yet 
surely more than fancy was the sound of subdued voices below the 
window, and the crushing of gravel from a horse's hoofs. Then all 
was quiet again ; and, creeping out of bed, I timidly drew the curtain. 
The moon was just rising, and the house lay in such deep shadow that 
I could discern nothing. Returning to bed, a sharp blow on the nose 
from the bed-post caused me severe pain and increased my wakeful- 
ness. Sleep I could not. 

" It might have been two hours after, when sleep was just quelling 
active thought, that I started violently. A shot was fired ; whether 
overhead, or beneath the window I could scarcely tell ; but so loud 
and near seemed the report that I expected the whole household to 
be roused in a moment. Rising in bed I listened, oh, how intently, 
for the tread of hurrying feet, for voices in amazement. But no, 
I could only hear the tick of the pendulum on the stairs ; and pre- 
sently the clock struck with alarming emphasis — one — two — three ! 
Surely somebody hears, somebody will awaken ! or, are all paralysed 
by fear ? Tracy should start at this hour : where was he ? Not a 
sound, not a word anywhere. I must have been mistaken in that 
shot. Excitement, perchance, was weaving fiercer fancies in the 
brain. I lay down chilled with fear. Overhead the tiny mouse was 
pattering on the tester like drops of rain. At length, I fell asleep. 

" The sun was shining full in my window when 1 awoke. At first I 
was inclined to accept as reality the mysterious noises of the night. 
Ah ! would that I had acted on this belief ! But in the broad day- 
light such terror and suspicion looked absurd ; and the idea d 
raising the laugh against myself by mentioning a disturbance which 
nobody else heard kept me quiet. Yet — what blood was that on the 
pillow ? a circular stain the size of a spade guinea. Oh ! I guessed 
at once ; my nose must have bled a little from its blow on the 
bed-post. Ah ! thought I, upon descending the great well-staircase 
to the breakfast-table, how easily things are explained ! And I sup- 
pose there could have been no shot, after all ! 

"Tracy was not present. He had gone away, earlier than was ex- 
pected (someone remarked) taking his favourite horse. 

" Lieutenant B — was quite facetious, and apparently on affec- 
tionate terms with Ellen. The guests were all leaving that day." 



III. 

THE DISCOVERY. 

Nine years passed with their solemn succession of birth, bridal, and 
and burial; and many who joyfully celebrated the advent of 1780 
were now no more. The household at the old Hall had sadly 



A Christmas Party One Hundred Years Ago. yy 

changed. My grandfather was dead. His only son and child, who 
had married my mother, had also recently died in his prime, after 
being crippled for many months from a fall from the new Dover 
coach. Thus, the only inmates of the Hall were my grandmother 
and my mother, both widows, and myself, a child of five. Lieu- 
tenant, now Captain B — , had greatly distinguished himself in the 
Gordon Riots of 1781. He had then married Ellen S — , and lived 
much abroad. Rarely did they write ; and the letters were not 
cheerful. The wife bemoaned her husband's harsh and exacting 
temper ; the husband spoke of his wife's wayward disposition, and 
even hinted at hallucinations. As to the supremely handsome Tracy, 
nothing had been heard of him since leaving the Hall : which was 
most strange. My grandfather was anxious, and once traced him by 
description to Abbeville ; and Captain B — asserted that he had 
seen him at Ranelagh ; but nothing could clearly be ascertained. 

It was now that my grandmother saw among the first obituary 
notices in " The Times " that relating to her very old friend Mrs. 
Delany ; and she hastened to Windsor (no slight undertaking in 
those days), intending afterwards to pay a series of visits in London, 
leaving my mother and myself alone in this deserted house. My 
mother was naturally of a nervous temperament; and, as the de- 
pressing gloom of winter deepened (a winter long remembered in 
Kent as equalling in severity that of 1767, when the snow lay five 
feet deep all around for many weeks), she began to take a morbid 
interest in the strange sounds which after sunset seem ever, from 
some unexplained cause, to wander about these old rooms. The 
springing of a board made her start ; the veering of the rusty vane 
caused a chill, as if some one were walking over her grave ; and 
when one of the heavy doors was jarred open by the draught, she 
dared not raise her eyes lest they should rest upon some weird 
visitor. The long hall and passage separated her from the servants ; 
so that her fears were magnified by isolation. And yet, it was not 
fear^ she said, but a feeling of awe which possessed her, as if there 
were something to be revealed, and which she could not shake off. 
What was to follow, it were best to relate in her own words : 

** I was sitting in this very chair on Monday evening the 22nd 
of December, tracing old faces in the firelight, recalling the 
pleasant days of long ago, and expecting the return of your dear 
grandmother every moment. Suddenly there arose a wailing and a 
sobbing, as of a female in distress, sometimes distant, then close under 
the window. Calling the servants, I hurried out. A muffled form 
was standing there, which I thought to be your grandmother, who 
might have walked from the London mail at Street End. 

*' * Come at last!' I exclaimed, leading her to the fire. 

*' ' Yes ! ' was the mournful response, * come at last.' I let fall the 
hand, deeply moved, for the tones were strange, yet familiar. Another 
moment and I recognised the face of my cousin, Ellen S — that is 



^S A Christmas Party One Hundred Years Ago. 

Mrs. B — . Yet what a change ! Always delicate and fragile, she looked 
worn to a shadow; the thin lips scarcely covering the set teeth. 
Those eyes of violet hue, still beautiful, were bathed in tears. I 
scarcely knew what to say. 

" * How cold you are, Ellen ,' kissing her. 

*' ' Very cold. I have been round and round this house ever 
so long. He beckoned me on and on, even here; and now 
he is hiding from me ! But I saw him at the pond ; and I saw 
him enter the open door behind you ten minutes ago. Where 
is he?' 

" ' Where — who ? ' said I in amazement. ' Your husband ? ' 

" ' No ! he is dead, my husband. I mean Tracy — Tracy.' 

" I at once guessed the truth. Rooted in the depth of her being 
was her love for Tracy. It had gathered strength with years. Other 
love might have grazed the surface, this had pierced the heart and 
mastered the mind, causing every nerve to tremble at his name, 
and the mind had proved unequal to the strain of this one all 
dominant and exciting thought. I sought to soothe her. 

" ' You are tired, my dear Ellen, and must want food. What shall 
it be — a little capon with a glass of wine, or a dish of foreign tea ? 
Here it all is : I had it ready for some one else.' 

" 'Then you expected him ! I knew I was right ! ' 

" ' Expected Mr. Tracy ! Heart aHve, no ! Nobody cares to 
come to me.' 

" 'Nobody cares to come to me,^ she repeated dejectedly; 'but I 
will go to him. I must find him. Yes, it is his will, his command. 
See here ! ' unfolding a scrap of paper nearly asunder. ' He wrote 
that, and he gave it to me on that last night when he hid himself in 
this house. You know?' 

" I remembered that night only too well, as I took the paper. 

" 'My dearling, — It is not too late. My love is as fire compared 
with his icy heart. I see you feel it. Accept it now ; if not, it. shall 
follow you as an angel. But when misery comes its force will be felt 
as anguish, and you will, you micst turn to one who by right of 
preference can claim you.' 

" It was useless to reason, and I busied myself in pressing food 
upon Ellen and comforting her. What she meant about Tracy 
coming into the house I could not imagine. We got her to bed. 
There she remained during many weeks, even until the anemone and 
blue bell were thick in Pole-tree wood, and the rooks fluttered round 
their nests in the adjoining elms. Still possessed by Tracy's image ; 
still haunted by the consciousness that he was somewhere near, she 
used to sit, gentle and tractable as a child, in the large warm window 
in the drawing-room looking towards Collier's Hill. Usually con- 
sidered harmless, there were occasions when her spirit was moved 
with restless energy, and she vrandered wildly about in search of 



A Christmas Party One Hundred Years Ago. 79 

him whose name was ever on her lips. The anniversary of her 
meeting with Tracy was one of these occasions. As it came round, 
poor Ellen's restlessness increased. Too well I remember (continues 
my mother) that eventful Wednesday, December 22nd, 1790, when 
she was seized with a desire to be dressed in a costume like that 
which she wore eleven years before. To pacify her we mounted into 
the huge lumber-room which extends the whole length of the roof, 
where on some loose planks were placed two chests of disused cloth- 
ing. Having made our selection we descended, lingering behind 
with strange persistency. As the evening approached, she, who was 
always influenced by atmospheric disturbance, was greatly agitated 
by one of the most terrific thunderstorms that ever swept over this 
part of Kent. Old men still dwell upon this calamitous tempest at 
so unusual a time ; and, there were not wanting those who saw in 
the lurid sky a reflection of the blood-red hand which was then 
fiercely guiding the destinies of France. Two churches were struck 
in Romney Marsh ; a flock of sheep killed in the Falcon field ; and 
the wheat-stacks fired at Highgate Farm. There was a lull about 
eleven o'clock; and, giving Ellen in charge of Lucy Lacton, you 
were taken to your grandmother's room and I went to bed also, but 
not to sleep. It was the same bed in the same position, and I could 
not help recalling my former terror just eleven years before. Presently 
the storm returned, with heavy rain and hail. The lightning 
quivered far brighter than my lamp, and the crackling thunder awoke 
the slumbering echoes in these silent rooms. It seemed too, as if 
all the winds had met overhead, and were delivering the story of 
their passage over the earth. There was a sound of low moaning 
wafted from the breath of the dying ; and a gentle symphony stolen 
from infant lips ; and, at times a fierce frenzy borne in haste from a 
madman's cell, which shook the timbers of the roof and made the 
old house reel again ; and, mingling with these, was a voice more 
human than all, piercing the thick walls with its entreaty for help. 
Ellen had escaped from her slumbering companion ! Rising in 
haste, I followed the affrighted servants up the wide staircase into 
the vast lumber room. The lightning glimmered in the crevices of the 
tiles, the heavy rain hissed in our ears ; and, looking forwards 1 saw 
a sight which was traced on my brain for ever in characters of fire. 

" There stood Ellen, fully dressed as of old, with a flaring wick by 
her side. She had moved the heavy chests and thrown aside the 
loose planks ; and with a wild look of triumph in those violet eyes 
she stood statue like pointing downwards. We shrieked with 
dismay. For there, at her feet — pressed and flattened between the 
rough joists lay the skeleton of a man. The garments were scanty, 
but looking at that still luxuriant hair fallen in matted folds at the 
back, it needed not the flowered vest of silk, or the tarnished 
buckles of a design unique, to identify him whom we knew so well. 

"'There! there!' cried Ellen, stamping her foot, *I knew I was 



8o A Christmas Party One Hundred Years Ago. 

right ; he was hiding from me here. For months I have called to 
him, and he has answered feebly and more feebly ; and I have groped 
by daylight and by dark to find him. Tracy, why are you here?' 

" Too intent upon the startling object, to notice her words, at 
my request George Knowles gently raised the head. Something fell 
with a metallic ring on the plaster beneath. It was a bullet. Ellen 
seized it, and wandered hastily to a door in the outer wall (used for 
the hoisting of corn and wool), which the hurricane had blown open. 
Apprehensive of danger, I walked warily along the beams which 
formed the floor, to the spot, carrying a lamp. Alas ! I was not in 
time. She stood on the door-sill, turning her treasure to what she 
supposed was the light. At that moment a vivid flash of forked 
lightning showed her what it was. Dazed by the blinding flash, she 
staggered ; and, oh, horror of horrors, stept forward into vacancy ! 

*'' Kind doctor Whitfield came in haste; but that fall of twenty feet 
had rendered surgical skill useless. There she lay in the darkened 
hall, more beautiful in death than in life : and even his professional 
placidity was disturbed, when upstairs he examined the remains of 
the handsome Tracy. 

"It was not the sight of a former acquaintance; it was not the 
cause of death that surprised him. ' The remains,' said he, ' my 
dear madam, are those of a zvoman.^" 

My mother adds. " Now I can see, if not explain, it all. The 
voices on that eventful night, eleven years ago, wej-e a reality ; but 
whose were they ? The distant sound of hoofs was Tracy's favourite 
horse being allured away. 

" After that, doubtless, Lieutenant B — sought Tracy in that lonely 
bedroom; merely a dark recess within the west gable, only used 
when the house was full ; and challenged him. Tracy would 
hurry on a few clothes, and the encounter took place in the ad- 
joining chamber; or, rather in that vast space under the roof which 
I have described. Possibly they fired simultaneously, as I heard but 
one report ; and that blood on my pillow was not mine, but the Hfe 
blood of Tracy as he fell with a bullet through the brain ; the life 
blood oozing through the ceiling just below where he was; pattering 
on the tester as the feet of a tiny mouse, and falling drop by drop 
almost on my face. Or — was it not a duel ? " 

They were buried in the churchyard of an adjoining parish at the 
South East angle of a chantry chapel. One coffin contained both. 
The turf has grown over the flat stone ; although the text on it, long 
apparent, excited the interest of the stranger : " We see through a 
glass darkly." 

The very act of transcribing these remarkable incidents has 
silvered the dull routine of daily life. The past is before me. 
Bright remembrances, like December meteors, sweep across the dark 
horizon. I forget that I am old and alone. 



THE ARGOSY. 

FEBRUARY, 1880. 



THE MYSTERIES OF HERON DYKE. 



CHAPTER IV. 

HERON DYKE AND ITS INMATES. 

THE Denisons — or Denzons, as they used formerly to spell their 
name — were one of the oldest families in that part of Norfolk 
in which Heron Dyke was situated. They could trace back their 
descent in a direct line as far as the reign of Henry the Third, but 
beyond that their pedigree was lost in the mists of antiquity. Who 
was the first member of the family that settled at Heron Dyke, and 
how he came by the estate, were moot points which it was hardly 
likely would ever be satisfactorily cleared up after such a lapse of time. 
The Denisons had never been more than plain country squires. 
Several female members of the family had married people of title, but 
none of the males had ever held anything more than military rank. 
James the Second had offered a barony to the then head of the 
family, and the second George a baronetcy to the squire of that day, 
but both offers had been respectfully declined. 

No family in the county was better known either by name or 
reputation than the Denisons — the " Mad Denisons," as they were 
often called, and had been called any time these three hundred years. 
Not that any of them had ever been charged with lunacy, or had been 
shut up in a madhouse; but they had always been known as an excit- 
able, eccentric race, full of '' queer notions," addicted to madcap 
pranks and daredevil feats, such as seldom failed to astonish, and 
sometimes frighten their quiet neighbours, and had long ago earned 
for them the unenviable sobriquet mentioned above. 

A Gilbert Denison it was who, in the reign of William and Mary, 
wagered a hundred guineas that on a certain fifth of November he 
would have a bigger bonfire than his near friend and neighbour, 

VOL. XXIX. G 



82 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

Colonel Duxberry. A bigger bonfire he certainly had, for with his 
own hand he fired three of the largest hayricks on the farm, and so 
won the wager. 

A later Squire Denison it was who, when his father died and he 
should have come into the estate, was nowhere to be found and did 
not turn up till two years afterwards. He had quarrelled with his 
parents and run away from home; and he was ultimately found earning 
his living as a bare-back rider in a country circus. He it was who, 
when his friend the clown called upon him a year or two later to beg 
the loan of a sovereign, dressed the man up in one of his own 
suits and introduced him to his guests at table as a distinguished 
traveller just returned from the East. Old Lord Fosdyke, who sat 
next the clown at dinner and was much taken with him, made a 
terrible to-do when he was told of the hoax that had been played 
off upon him : ever afterwards he refused to speak to or recognise 
Mr. Denison in any way. 

Two other heads of the family lost their lives in duels; one of them 
by the hand of his dearest friend, with whom he had had a difference 
respecting the colour of a lady's eyebrows : the other by a stranger, 
with whom he had chosen to pick a quarrel " just for the fun of 
the thing." There was an old distich well known to the country folk 
for twenty miles round Heron Dyke, which sufficiently emphasised 
the popular notion of the family's peculiarities. It ran as under : 

" Whate'er a Denzon choose to do, 
Need ne'er sm-prise, nor me nor you." 

The existing mansion at Heron Dyke was the third which was 
known to have been built on the same site or in immediate proximity 
to it. The present house bore the date 1616, the one to which it 
was the successor having been destroyed by fire. There was a tradi- 
tion in the family that the whilom lord of Heron Dyke set fire to the 
roof-tree of the old mansion with his own hand, hoping by such sum- 
mary method to exorcise the ghost of a girl dressed in white and 
having a red spot on her breast, which would persist in rambling 
through the upper chambers of the house during that weird half-hour 
when the daylight is dying, and night has not yet come. He had 
lately brought home his bride, and the young wife vowed that she 
would go back to her mother unless the ghost were got rid of. It is 
to be presumed that the means adopted proved effectual, since there 
seems to be no further record of the girl in white ever having put in 
an appearance afterwards. 

The present mansion of Heron Dyke formed three sides of an 
oblong square. A low, broad, lichen-covered wall made up the 
fourth side, just outside of which ran the moat, a sluggish stream some 
ten or a dozen feet broad, spanned by an old stone bridge grey with 
age. The house, which was but two stories high, was built of the 
black flints so common in that part of the country, set in some sort 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. %'^ 

of cement which age had hardened to the consistency of stone. 
Here and there the dull uniformity of the thick walls was relieved by 
diaper-patterned pilasters of faded red brick. The high, narrow, 
lozenge-paned windows were set in quaintly carved muUions of 
reddish freestone, the once sharp outlines of which were now blurred 
with age. The steep, high-pitched roof was covered with blue-black 
tiles which at one time had been highly glazed, but the rains and 
snows of many winters had dimmed their brightness, while in summer 
many-coloured mosses found lodgment in their crevices and patched 
them here and there with beauty. The tall, twisted chimneys of deep- 
red brick lent their warmth and colouring to the picture. 

There were dormer windows in the roofs of the two wings, but none 
in the main building itself. The grand entrance was reached by a 
flight of broad, shallow steps, crowned with a portico that was sup- 
ported by five Ionic columns : a somewhat incongruous addition to a 
house that otherwise was thoroughly English in all its aspects. In 
front of the house was a large oval lawn clumped with evergreens 
and surrounded by a carriage drive. The stables and domestic offices 
were hidden away at the back of the house, where also were the 
kitchen-garden, the orchard, and a walled-in flower garden, into which 
looked the windows of Mr. Denison's favourite sitting-room. Just 
inside the low, broad wall, that bounded the moat, grew seven tall . 
poplars, known to the cottagers and simple fisher-folk thereabouts as 
" The Seven Maidens of Heron Dyke." 

The park was not of any great extent, the distance from the moat 
to the lodge gates on the high-road to NuUington being little more 
than half a mile. But it was well wooded and had nothing formal 
about it, and such as it was it seemed a fitting complement to the old 
house that looked across its pleasant glades. The house was built 
in a sheltered hollow not quite half a mile from the sea. It was pro- 
tected on the north by a shelving cliff that was crowned with a light- 
house. Behind it the ground rose gradually and almost imperceptibly 
for a couple of miles till the little town of NuUington was reached. 
Not far from the southern corner of the Hall, was an artificial hillock 
of considerable size and some fifty or sixty feet in height, which was 
thickly planted with larches. The park, in front of the house 
swept softly upward to its outermost wall. Beyond that, was a 
protecting fringe of young larches and scrubwood, then the ever- 
shifting sand dunes, and, last of all, the cold grey waters of the North 
Sea. For miles southward the land was almost as flat as a billiard 
table. The fields were divided by dykes which had been dug for 
drainage purposes, with here and there a fringe of pollard willows to 
break the dead level of monotony. The sea was invisible from the 
lower windows of the Hall, but there was a fine view of it from the 
dormer windows in the north wing, and here Ella Winter had had a 
room fitted up especially for herself. Had you ever slept at Heron Dyke 
on a winter night when a strong landward breeze was blowing, you 



84 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

would have been hushed to rest by one of nature's most majestic 
monotones. When you lay down and when you arose, you would 
have had in your ears the thunderous beat of countless thousands of 
white-lipped angry waves on the long level reaches of sand, that 
stretched away southward for miles as far as the eye could reach. 

When Gilbert Denison, uncle to the present squire of Heron 
Dyke, died from the results of an accident, at his lodgings in 
Bloomsbury Square, and when the strange provisions of his will 
came to be noised abroad, there was no lack of ill-advisers, who did 
their best to induce the youthful heir to contest the validity of the 
dead man's will. But young Gilbert knew that his uncle had never 
been saner in his life than when he planned that particular proviso ; 
besides which, he was far too proud of his family name to drag the 
will of a Denison through the mire of the law courts. His uncle, 
who had always been looked upon as a sober, thrifty, bucolic-minded 
sort of man, had not failed to redeem the family reputation for 
eccentricity at the last moment, and young Gilbert had an idea that 
it was just the sort of thing he himself would have been likely to do 
under similar circumstances. 

To the surprise of his boon companions, he quietly accepted the 
situation thus forced upon him, and determined to make the best 
of it. After giving a farewell symposium to the friends who had so 
kindly helped him to sow his wild oats, London saw him no more 
for several years. He settled down at Heron Dyke, and became 
as staid and sober a specimen of a country gentleman as a Denison 
was ever likely to become. His somewhat shattered constitution was 
now nursed with all the care and tenderness he could call up. If 
it were in the power of man to defeat that last hateful clause in his 
uncle's will, he was the man to do it. 

" He will be sure to choose a wife before long," said all the 
anxious matrons in the neighbourhood who had eligible daughters 
waiting to be mated. But Gilbert Denison did nothing of the kind. 
Years went by. He became a middle-aged man, then an elderly 
man, and all hope of his ever changing his bachelor condition 
gradually died away. There was a constantly floating rumour in the 
neighbourhood of a romantic attachment and a disappointment when 
he w^as young ; but it might be nothing more than an idle story. It 
was even said that the lady had jilted him in favour of his cousin, 
and that there would have been bloodshed between the two men 
had not the other Gilbert hurried away with his young wife to Italy. 

It was this other Gilbert, or his descendants, who would come in 
for the Heron Dyke estates, should the present squire not live to see 
his seventieth birthday. There was no love lost between the senior 
and junior branches of the family. The estrangement begun in 
early life only widened with years. Its continuance, if not its 
origin, was probably due to the squire's hard and unforgiving dispo- 
sition. The other side had more than once made friendly overtures 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 85 

to the head of the house : but the squire would have none of them. 
He hated the whole "vile crew," root and stump, he said; and if 
any one of them ever dared to darken his threshold, he vowed that 
he would shoot him without compunction. It was Squire Denison's 
firm and fixed belief that the spies sometimes seen around his house 
— for spies he declared them to be — were emissaries of his relatives, 
sent to see whether he was not likely to die before his seventieth 
birthday. 

We made the squire's acquaintance at his interview with Captain 
Lennox, after the return of the latter from London. His sixty- 
ninth birthday was just over. Could he but live eleven months 
more, all would be well. Ella Winter, in that case, would be heiress 
to all he had to leave, for he should will it to her ; and his hated 
cousin, and his cousin's family, would be left out in the cold, as 
they deserved to be. As everybody knew, the squire had been more 
or less of an invalid for many years ; but latterly his complaint had 
assumed a rather alarming character, and there were weeks together 
when he never crossed the threshold of his own rooms. His dis- 
order was a mortal one — one that would most certainly carry him 
off at no very distant date — but that was a fact known to himself 
and Dr. Spreckley alone. 

For the last twenty years the squire had not kept up an estab- 
lishment at the Hall in accordance with his income and position 
in the county. There was Aaron Stone, his faithful old body- 
servant and major-domo, and Aaron's wife, who was almost as old 
as he was. There was the old couple's handsome grandson, Hubert, 
who was the squire's steward, bailiff, gamekeeper, and sometimes 
secretary and companion. There were the gardener and his wife at 
the lodge on the Nullington road. When to these were added a 
coachman, a stable-boy, and two or three women-servants, the whole 
of the establishment was told. Mr. Denison had not given a dinner- 
party for years ; or, for the matter of that, gone to one. Now and 
then an old acquaintance — such as the vicar, or Sir Peter Dock- 
wray, or Colonel Townson — would drop in unceremoniously, and 
take the chance of whatever there happened to be for dinner ; but 
beyond such casual visitants, very little company was kept. 

Mr. Denison had been compelled to give up horse exercise some 
few years ago. He took his airings in a lumbering, old-fashioned 
brougham, which might have been stylish and handsome once. 
Very often nothing occupied the shafts but a grey mare, that was 
nearly as lumbering as the vehicle itself. Old Aaron could get its 
best paces out of it when he drove it in the dog-cart to Nullington 
market and back. Ella Winter had a young chestnut filly for riding, 
powerful yet gentle, for which her uncle had given quite a fancy 
price. Another horse in the squire's stables was a big, serviceable 
hack, which Hubert Stone looked upon as being for his sole use ; 
indeed, no one but himself ever thought of mounting it. He rode 



S6 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

it here and there when about the squire's business ; and sometimes, 
perhaps, when about his own. Better than all else he liked to 
accompany Ella when she went out riding. He would be dressed 
somewhat after the style of a gentleman farmer, in cut-away coat, 
buckskins, and top-boots. He did not ride by the side of Ella as 
an equal would have done, nor yet so far behind her as a groom. 
Many were the comments passed by the gossips of NuUington when 
they encountered Miss Winter and her handsome attendant cantering 
along the country roads, or quiet lanes that led to nowhere in par- 
ticular. 

]\Ir. Denison was well seconded in his saving propensities by his 
old servant, Aaron Stone. Aaron was born on the Heron Dyke 
estate, as had been his ancestors before him for two hundred years. 
Thus it fell out that, at the age of nineteen, he was appointed by 
the late squire to attend his nephew when he set out on the Grand 
Tour, and from that day to the present he had never left him. 
There were many points of similarity in the tempers and dispositions 
of master and man. Both of them were obstinate, cross-grained 
men, with strong wills of their own, and both of them were inclined 
to play the small tyrant as far as their opportunities would allow. 
They grumbled at each other from January till December, but were 
none the less true friends on that account. No other person dare 
say to the squire a tithe of the things that Aaron said with impunity, 
and probably no other servant would have put up with Mr. Denison's 
wayward humours and variable temper as Aaron did. Twenty times 
a year the squire threatened to discharge his old servant as being 
lazy, wasteful, and good-for-nothing ; and a month seldom passed 
without Aaron vowing that he would pack up his old hair trunk, and 
never darken the doors of Heron Dyke again. But neither of them 
meant what he said. 

Aaron's wife, Dorothy, had been a NuUington girl, and had heard 
people talk about the Denisons of Heron Dyke ever since she could 
remember anything. She was now sixty-five years old : a little, 
withered, timid woman, slightly deaf, and very much in awe of her 
husband. She believed in dreams and omens, and was imbued 
with all sorts of superstitious fancies local to the neighbourhood 
and to the Hall. Perhaps her deafness had something to do with 
her reticence of speech, for she was certainly a woman of very few 
words, who went about her duties in a silent, methodical way, and 
did not favour strangers. 

One son alone had blessed the union of Aaron and Dorothy. He 
proved to be something of a wild spark, and ran away from home 
before he was one-and-twenty. Subsequently he joined a set of 
strolling players, and a year or two later he married one of the com- 
pany. The young lady whom he made his wife was reported to 
come of a good family, and, like himself, was said to have run away 
from home. Anyhow, they did not live long to enjoy their wedded 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 87 

happiness. Four years later the little boy, Hubert, fatherless and 
motherless, was brought to Heron Dyke, and then it was that Aaron 
Stone learnt for the first time that he had a grandson. 

The squire was pleased with the lad's looks, and took pity on his 
forlorn condition. He was sent to Easterby, and brought, up by one 
of the fishermen's wives, and when he Was old enough he was put 
to a good school, Mr. Denison paying all expenses. He always 
spent his holidays at the Hall, and there it was, when he was about 
twelve years old, that he first saw Ella, who was his junior by two 
years. Children, as a rule, think little of the differences of social 
rank; at all events, Ella did not, and she and handsome, bright- 
eyed Hubert soon became great friends. Mr. Denison, if he noticed 
the intimacy, did not disapprove of it. They were but children, and 
no harm could come of it; and perhaps it was as well that Ella should 
have someone with her besides Nero, the big retriever, when she 
went for her lonely rambles along the shore, or gathering nuts and 
blackberries in the country lanes. This pleasant companionship — both 
pleasant and dangerous to Hubert, young though he still was — 
was renewed and kept up every holiday season till the boy was six- 
teen. Then all at once there came a great gap. Ella was sent abroad 
to finish her education, and although she saw her uncle several 
times in the interim, Hubert, as it happened, saw no more of her till 
she came home for good at nineteen years of age. But before this 
came about, Hubert's own career in life had been settled : at least, for 
some time to come. When the boy was seventeen the squire decided 
that he had had enough schooling, and that it was time for him to 
set about earning his living. How he was to set about it was ap- 
parently a point that required some consideration ; meanwhile, the 
boy stayed on at Heron Dyke. He was a bold rider and a good 
shot. He wrote an excellent hand, and was quick at figures. In 
fact, he was an intelligent, teachable young fellow, who had made 
good use of his opportunities at school : moreover, he could keep 
his temper well under control when it suited him to do so ; and, 
little by little, the squire began to find him useful in many ways. 
He himself was growing old, and Aaron got more stupid every year 
that he lived. By-and-bye nothing more was said about Hubert 
having to earn a living elsewhere. He relieved the squire of many 
duties that had become irksome to him; and when a man of his 
years has once dropped a burden he rarely cares to pick it up again. 
In short, by the time Hubert was twenty years old he had made 
himself thoroughly indispensable to the squire. 

No one but Hubert himself ever knew with what a fever of unrest 
he awaited the coming home of Ella Winter. Had she forgotten 
him ? Would she recognise him after all these years ? How would 
she greet him ? He tormented himself with a thousand vain ques- 
tions. He knew now that he loved her with all the devotion of a 
deeply passionate heart. 



S8 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

Miss Winter came at last. The moment her eyes rested on Hubert 
she recognised him, changed though he was. She came up to him 
at once and held out her hand. " When I see so many faces about 
me that I remember, then I know that I am at home," she said, look- 
ing into his eyes with that sweetly serious look of hers. 

Hubert touched her hand, blushed, and stammered ; although, as 
a rule, there were few young men more self-possessed than he was. 
At the same moment a chill ran through him. His heart seemed as 
if it must break. The Ella of his day-dreams — the bright-eyed, sunny- 
haired little maiden who had treated him almost like a brother, who 
had grasped his wrist when she leaped across the runlets in the 
sands, who had imperiously ordered him to drag down the tall 
branches of the nut-trees till the fruit was within her reach — had 
vanished from his ken for ever. In her stead stood Miss Winter, a 
strangely-beautiful young lady, whose face was familiar and yet un- 
familiar. As he saw and recognised this, he saw, too, and recog- 
nised for the first time, the impassable gulf that divided them. She 
was a lady, the daughter of an ancient house : he was not a gentle- 
man, and nothing could ever make him one, at least in her eyes, or 
in the eyes of the world to which she belonged. He was a son of 
the soil. He was Gurth the swineherd, and she was the Lady 
Rowena. What folly, what madness, to love one so utterly beyond 
his reach ! 

CHAPTER V. 

AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR. 

" You must go round to the side door if you have any business 
here," cried a shrill, angry, quavering voice, from an upper window, 
in answer to the loud knocking of a stranger at the main entrance to 
Heron Dyke. Edward Conroy — for he it was — could not at first 
make out where the voice came from, but when he stepped from 
under the portico and glanced upward, he saw a withered face pro- 
truded from one of the upper windows, and a skinny hand and arm 
pointing in the direction of a door which he now noticed for the 
first time in a corner of the right wing. For the first time, too, he 
now saw that the grim old door at which he had been knocking 
looked as if it had not been opened for years, and that the knocker 
itself was rusty from disuse. Even the steps that led up to the por- 
tico were falling into disrepair, and through the cracks and crevices 
tiny tufts of grass and patches of velvety moss showed themselves 
here and there. 

Conroy descended the steps slowly, and then turned to take 
another look at the grey old house, which he had never seen before 
to-day. The first view of it, as he crossed the bridge over the moat, 
had not impressed him favourably. But now that he looked at it 
again, the quaint formality of its lines seemed to please him better. 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 89 

It might have few pretensions to architectural dignity ; but, with the 
passage of years, there had come to it a certain harmoniousness 
such as it had never possessed when it was new. Summer sun and 
winter rain had not been without their effect upon it. They had 
toned down the hardness of its original outlines : its coldness seemed 
less cold, its formality not so formal, as they must once have seemed. 
It was slowly mellowing in the soft, sweet air of antiquity. 

He noticed, as he walked along the front of the house from the 
main entrance to the side door, that the entire range of windows on 
the ground floor had their shutters fastened, and those of the upper 
floor their blinds drawn down. His heart chilled for a moment as 
the thought struck him that someone might perhaps be lying dead 
inside the house. But then he reflected that he should surely have 
heard such a thing spoken of at the village inn, where he had slept 
last night. Was it not, rather, that the house had always the same 
shut-up look that it wore to-day ? 

Conroy knocked at the side door, a heavy door also, and was 
answered by the loud barking of a dog. After waiting for what 
seemed an intolerable time, he heard footsteps in the distance, 
which slowly drew nearer. The door was unbolted, and opened 
as far as the chain inside would permit. Through this opening 
peered forth the crabbed, wizened face of an old man — of a man 
with a pointed chin, and a long nose, and eyes that were full of 
suspicion and ill-humour. 

" And what may be your business at Heron Dyke ? " he de- 
manded, in a harsh, querulous voice, after a look that took in the 
stranger from head to foot. 

" Be good enough to give this card to Mr. Denison, and if he can 
spare two minutes " 

" He won't see any strangers without he knows their business first," 
interrupted the old man, brusquely, as he turned the card to the 
light that was streaming through the open doorway into the dim 
corridor in which he stood, and read the name printed on it. 
"Never heard of you before," he added. " Maybe you are a spy — 
a mean, dastardly spy," he continued, after a pause, still eyeing the 
young man suspiciously from under his thick white eyebrows. 

** A spy ! No, I am not a spy. Have you any spies in these 
parts ? " 

"Lots of them." 

" And what do they come to spy out ? " 

" That's none of your business, sir, so long as you're not one — 
though that has to be proved," answered the crusty old man, as he 
went away with the card, leaving Conroy outside. 

He turned, and began to pace the gravelled pathway in front of 
the door. " Is my sweet princess here, I wonder, and shall I suc- 
ceed in seeing her ? " he said to himself. " Very like a wild-goose 
chase, this errand of mine. To see her once in London for a couple 



90 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

of hours — to fall in love with her then and there — to come racing 
down to this out-of-the-world spot, weeks afterwards, on the bare 
possibility of seeing her again — when she probably remembers no 
more of me than she does of any other indifferent stranger — what 
can that be but the act of a " 

Light footsteps were coming swiftly down the stone corridor. 
Conroy's face flushed, and a strange eager light leapt into his eyes. 
There was a rustle of garments, then the heavy chain dropped, the 
door swung wide on its hinges, and Ella Winter stood revealed to 
Conroy's happy gaze. 

His card was in her hand. She glanced from it to his face, and, 
a momentary blush mounting to her cheek, she advanced a step or 
two and held out her hand. " Mr. Conroy," she said, " I have not 
forgotten your sketches. Or you either," she added, as if by an 
after-thought, a smile playing round her lips by this time, coming 
and going like May sunshine. 

She led the way in, and he followed. The long, flagged corridor, 
with its dim light, struck him with a chill, after coming out of the 
bright air. Ella entered a small, oak-panelled room, plainly and 
heavily furnished, and invited Mr. Conroy to sit down. 

*' We live mostly at the back of the house," she observed. " My 
uncle prefers the rooms to those in front." 

" It is a grand old house," answered Conroy. " And what might 
it not be made ! " he added to himself. 

*' You received your portfolio of sketches back safely, Mr. Conroy, 
I hope. My aunt left them at your address that day when we went 
out for our drive." 

" Did you indeed leave them ! Were you so good? " 

** Sketches such as those are too valuable to be trusted to the 
chance of loss," said Ella. 

" I was so very sorry not to call again on ]\Irs. Carlyon, as I 
had promised," he continued, "but the next day but one I had to 
leave town. I wonder what she thought of me ? " 

" I don't think she thought at all," replied Ella ingenuously — 
*' though she would, I am sure, have been glad to see you. Aunt 
Gertrude was too full of her loss in those days to notice who visited 
her. On the evening of the party she lost her jewels." 

"Lost her jewels!" exclaimed Conroy. "Do you mean those 
she wore ? " 

" No, no. Her casket of jewels was stolen from her dressing- 
room. Some of them were very valuable. The case was left on her 
dressing-table, and it disappeared during the evening." 

" Was the case itself stolen ? " 

" We thought so that night, but the next morning when the house- 
maids were sweeping her boudoir — the room in which we looked at 
your sketches, if you remember — they found the case on the floor, 
ingeniously hidden behind the window curtain." 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 91 

"Empty?" 

" Oh, of course. The thief had taken the contents and left the 
case. Aunt Gertrude can hear nothing of them." 

" I hope and trust she will find them," was Mr. Conroy's warm 
answer. And then he went on, after a perceptible pause. " I think 
you know already, Miss Winter, that I am connected with the press. 
The world being quiet just now, my employers, having nothing better 
for me to do, have found a very peaceful mission for me for the time 
being. They have sent me into this part of the country to take 
sketches of different old mansions and family seats, and I am here to- 
day to seek Mr. Denison's permission to make a couple of drawings 
of Heron Dyke." 

Ella hesitated for a moment or two, toying nervously with Conroy's 
card, which she still held. Then she spoke. 

" My uncle is a confirmed invalid, Mr. Conroy, and very much of 
a recluse. Strangers, or indeed acquaintances whom he has not 
met for a long time, are unwelcome to him, even when there is no 
need for him to see them personally. Whether he will see you, or 
grant you the permission you ask for,- without seeing you, is more 
than I can tell. I will, however, try my best to induce him to 
do so." 

*' Thank you very much," said Conroy. " I certainly should like 
to take some sketches of this old house: but, rather than put Mr. 
Denison out of the way, or cause the slightest annoyance in the 
matter, I will forego " 

'' Certainly not," Ella hastily interrupted : ''at least, until I have 
spoken to my uncle. If he would but see you it might rouse him 
from the lethargy that seems to be gradually creeping over him, and 
would do him good. To receive more visitors would be so much 
better for him ! You will excuse me for a few minutes, will you 
not ? " 

" What a life for this fair young creature to lead ! " Conroy said to 
himself as soon as she was gone. "To be shut up in this gloomy old 
house with a querulous hypochondriac who suspects an enemy in 
every stranger and dreads he knows not what : but it seems to me 
that women can endure things that would drive a man crazy. Would 
that I were the knight to rescue her from this wizard's grasp and take 
her out into the sweet sunlight ! " 

He stood gazing out of the window, tapping the panes lightly 
with his fingers and smiling to himself, lost in dreams. 

*' My uncle will see you," said Ella, as she re-entered the room. 

" Thank you for your kind intervention." 

" He is in one of his more gracious moods to-day : but you must 
be careful not to contradict him if you wish to obtain his sanction 
to what you require. And now I will show you to his room." 

After traversing two or three flagged passages, Conroy was ushered 
into a room which might have been an enlarged copy of the one he 



92 TJie Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

had just left. It was the same room in which Captain Lennox's 
interview took place on the night of his return from London. Aaron 
Stone was coming out as Conroy went in. The old man greeted him 
with a queer, sour look, and some uncomplimentary remark, muttered 
to himself. Then he went out and banged the heavy door noisily 
behind him. 

" S — s — s — s ! That confounded door again!" exclaimed a rasping, 
high-pitched voice from behind the screen at the farther end of the 
room. " Will that old rapscallion never remember that I have nerves ? 
Ah — ha! if I could but cuff him as I used to do!" added the 
squire, breaking off with a fit of coughing. 

Ella held up a warning finger and waited without moving till all was 
quiet again. She glided across the polished, uncarpeted floor and 
passed in front of the screen. Conroy waited in the background. 

" I have brought Mr. Conroy to see you, Uncle Gilbert — the gen- 
tleman who wants to take some sketches of the Hall," said Ella in 
tones a little louder than ordinary. 

" And who gave you leave, young lady, to introduce any strangers 
here ? Why " 

"You yourself gave me leave, uncle, not many minutes ago," she 
quietly interposed. *' You said that you would see Mr. Conroy." 

" Did I, child ? " 

" Certainly you did." 

" Then my memory must be failing me faster than I thought it was." 
Here came a deep sigh followed by a moment or two of silence. 
" You are right, Ella. I remember it now. Let us see what this 
bold intruder is like." 

Conroy stepped forward in front of the screen and saw before him 
the Master of Heron Dyke. He looked to-day precisely as he had 
looked that evening, long ago, counting by weeks, when Captain 
Lennox called at the Hall. It might be that his face was a little 
thinner and more worn, but that was the only difference. 

"So! You are the young jackanapes who wants to sketch my 
house — eh ? " said Mr. Denison, as he peered into Conroy's face with 
eager, suspicious eyes. " How do I know that you are not a spy — 
a vile spy ? " He ground out the last word from between his teeth 
and craned his long neck forward so as to bring it closer to Conroy's 
face. 

" Do I look like a spy, sir? " asked Conroy calmly, as he went a 
pace nearer to the old man's chair. 

" What have looks to do with it ? There's many a false heart 
behind a fair-seeming face. Aye, many — many." He spoke the 
last words as if to himself, and when he had ended he sat staring out 
of the window like one who had become suddenly oblivious of every- 
thing around him. His lips moved, but no sound came from them. 

Mr. Denison's reverie was broken by the entrance of Aaron with 
letters and newspapers. Then the squire turned to Conroy. " So, 



TJie Myste7'les of Heron Dyke, 93 

you're not a spy, eh ? Well, I don't think you look like one. And 
pray what can there be about a musty tumble-down old house, like 
this, that you should want to make a sketch of it?" 

** The Denisons are one of the oldest families in Norfolk. Surely, 
sir, some account of the home of such a family would interest many 
people." 

" And how come you to know so much about the Denisons ? " 
shrewdly asked the squire. " But sit down. It worries me to see 
people standing at my elbow." 

** Such knowledge is a part of my stock in trade," said Conroy, as 
he took a chair. *' I have not only to make the sketches, but to tell 
the public all about them. Both in Burke and the ' County History' 
I have found many interesting particulars of the old family whose 
home is at Heron Dyke." 

" Um — ah ! And pray, young sir, what other houses in the county 
have you sketched before you found your way here?" 

" None ; I have come to you, sir, before going anywhere else." 

" Well said, young man. The county can boast of finer houses 
by the score, but what are the families who live in them ? Mush- 
rooms. Mere mushrooms in comparison with the Denisons. We 
might have been ennobled centuries ago had we chosen to accept a 
title. But the Denisons always thought themselves above such 
gewgaws." 

" Was it not to the same purport, sir, that Colonel Denison 
answered James the Second when his Majesty offered him a patent 
of nobility on the eve of the Battle of the Boyne ? " 

** Ah — ^ha ! your reading has been to some purpose," said the old 
man, with a dry chuckle. " That's the colonel's portrait over there 
in the left-hand corner. They used to tell me that I was something 
like him when I was a young spark." 

Evidently he was pleased. He rubbed his lean, chilly fingers 
together and fell into another reverie. Conroy glanced round. Ella 
was sitting at her little work-table busy with her crewels. What a 
sweet picture she made in the young man's eyes as she sat there in 
her grey dress, with the rich coils of her chestnut hair bound closely 
round her head, and an agate locket set in gold suspended from her 
neck by a ribbon, in which was a portrait of her dead mother. Not 
knowing that Conroy was gazing at her, her eyes glanced up from 
her work and encountered his. Next moment the long lashes hid 
them again, but the sweet carnation in her cheeks betrayed that she 
had been taken unawares. 

Then Gilbert Denison spoke again. '* There's something about 
you, young man," he said, " that seems to wake in my mind an echo 
of certain old memories which I thought were dead and buried for 
ever. Whether it's in your voice, or your eyes, or in the way you 
carry your head, or in all of them together, I don't know. Very 
likely what I mean exists only in my own imagination : I sometimes 



94 -L /^ Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

think I'm getting into my dotage. What do you say your name is ? '* 
he asked, abruptly. 

*' Conroy, sir. Edward Conroy." 

Mr. Denison shook his head. "I never knew any family of that 
name." 

" The Conroy s have been settled in North Devon for the last 
three hundred years." 

" Never heard of 'em. But that's no matter. As I said before, 
there's something about you that comes home to me and I like, 
though I'll be hanged if I know what it is, and I've no doubt I'm an 
old simpleton for telling you as much. Anyhow, you may take what 
sketches of the place you like. You have my free permission for 
that. And if you're not above dining off boiled mutton — we are 
plain folk here now — you may find your way back to this room at five 
sharp, and there will be a knife and fork ready for you. Why not ? " 

The interview was over. Ella conducted Conroy into another 
room, and then rang the bell. " There must be some magic about 
you," she said, with a smile, "to have charmed my uncle as you 
have. You don't know what a rarity it is for him to see a fresh face 
at Heron Dyke." 

Aaron Stone answered the bell. Ella gave Conroy into his 
charge, with instructions to show him all that there was to be seen, 
and to allow him to sketch whatever he might choose. The old 
man received this with a bad grace. He had become so thoroughly 
imbued with the fear of spies and what they might do, that no cour- 
tesy was left in him. Growling something under his breath about 
strangers on a Friday always bringing ill-luck, he limped away to 
fetch his bunch of keys. 

" What a capital subject for an etching," thought Conroy, as he 
looked after the old man. 

When five o'clock struck, Conroy shut up his sketch-book and 
retraced his way to Mr. Denison's room. The dinner was almost as 
homely as the host had divined that it would be. But if the viands 
were plain, the wine was super-excellent, and as Conroy could see 
that he was expected to praise it, he did not fail to do so. A basin 
of soup, followed by a little jelly and a glass of Madeira, formed 
Mr. Denison's dinner. His bodily weakness was evidently very great. 
It seemed to Conroy that the man was upheld and sustained more 
by his indomitable energy of will than by any physical strength he 
might be possessed of " Heron Dyke will want a new master before 
long," was.Conroy's unspoken thought, as he looked at the long- 
drawn, cadaverous face before him. 

Ella would have left the room when the cloth was drawn, but her 
uncle bade her stay ; for which Conroy thanked him inwardly. The 
young artist quickly found that if the evening were not to languish, 
perhaps end in failure, he must do the brunt of the talking himself. 
Mr. Denison was no great talker at the best of times, and Ella, from 



I 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 95 

some cause or another, was more reserved than usual ; so Conroy 
plunged off at a tangent, and did his best to interest his hearers 
with an account of his experiences in Paris during the disastrous 
days of the Commune. As Desdemona of old was thrilled by the 
story of Othello's adventures, so was Ella thrilled this evening. 
Even Mr. Denison grew interested, and for once let his mind wander 
for a little while from his own interests and his own concerns. 

As they sat thus, the September evening slowly darkened. The 
candles were never lighted till the last moment. Conroy sat facing 
the windows which opened into the private garden at the back of the 
Hall. The boundary of this garden was an ivy-covered wall about six 
feet high. A low-browed door in one corner gave access to the kitchen- 
garden, beyond which was the orchard, and last of all a wide stretch 
of park. There were flowers in the borders round the garden wall, but 
opposite the windows grew two large yews whose sombre foliage 
clouded much of the light that would otherwise have crept in through 
the diamond-paned windows, and made more gloomy still an apart- 
ment which, even on the brightest of summer days, never looked any- 
thing but cheerless and cold. On this overcast September eve the 
yew-trees outside blackened slowly and seemed to draw the darkness 
down from the sky. Aaron came in at last with candles, and while he 
was disposing them Conroy rose, crossed to one of the windows, and 
stood looking out into the garden. It was almost dark by this time. 
While looking thus, he suddenly saw the figure of a man emerge from 
behind one of the yews, stare intently into the room for a moment, 
and then vanish behind the other yew. Conroy was startled. Was 
there, then, really truth in the squire's assertion that spies were con- 
tinually hovering round the Hall? Somehow he had deemed it 
nothing more than the hallucination of a sick man's fancy. 

With what object could spies come to Heron Dyke ? It was a 
mystery that puzzled Conroy. He crossed over to Ella and told her 
in a low voice what he had seen. She looked up with a startled ex- 
pression in her eyes. " Don't say a word about it to my uncle," 
she whispered. " It would only worry him and could do no good. 
Both he and Aaron often assert that they see strange people lurking 
about the house; but I myself have never seen anyone." 

The squire began to talk again, and nothing more passed. When 
Conroy rose to take his leave, his host held his hand and spoke to 
him cordially. " You will be in the neighbourhood for some days 
you tell us, Mr. Conroy. If you have nothing better to do on Tues- 
day than spend a few hours with a half doited old man and a country 
lassie, try and find your way here again. Eh, now ? " 

This, nothing loth, Conroy promised to do ; the more so as Ella's 
needle was suspended in mid-air for a moment while she waited to 
hear his answer. Conroy's eyes met hers for an instant as she gave 
him her hand at parting, but she was on her guard this time and 
nothing was to be read there. 



96 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 

He had not gone many steps from the house when there was a 
rustle amidst the trees he was passing ; and a young and well-dressed 
man, so far as Mr. Conroy could see, who had been apparently 
peering through an opening in the trees, walked away quickly. 

" He was watching the house," said Mr. Conroy to himself. *' One 
of the spies, I suppose. What on earth is it they are spying at ? " 

Dull enough felt Ella after Conroy 's departure. " I'll get a book," 
she said, shaking off her thoughts, which had turned on the man 
Conroy had seen behind the yew-tree : and she went to a distant 
room in search of one. Coming back with it, she saw the two house- 
maids, Martha and Ann, standing at the foot of the stairs which led 
up to the north wing. One of them held a candle, the other clung 
to her arm ; both their faces were wearing an unmistakable look of 
terror. 

" What is the matter ? " she asked, going towards them. 

*' We've just heard something. Miss Ella," whispered Ann. " One 
of the bed-room doors up there has just shut with a loud bang." 

" And it sounded like the door of he7' room," spoke the other from 
faer pale and frightened lips. " Miss Ella, I am sure it was." 

" The door of whose room ? " asked Miss Winter sharply, her own 
heart leaping fast. 

" Of ^Catherine's," answered both the maids together. 

The leaping rose to Ella's throat now. "What business had you 
in this part of the house at all ? " she questioned, after a pause. 

" Mrs. Stone sent us after her spectacles," explained Ann. " She 
left them in your sitting-room, ma'am, when she was up there seeing 
to the curtains this afternoon. She sent us, Miss Ella ; she'd not go 
up herself at dark for the world." 

** Did she send both of you ? " was the almost sarcastic question. 

*' Ma'am, she knows neither one of us would dare to go alone." 

" You are a pair of silly, superstitious girls," rebuked Miss 
Winter. " What is there in the north wing to frighten you, more 
than in any other part of the house ? I am surprised at you ; at you, 
Ann, especially, knowing as I do how sensibly your mother brought 
you up." 

" I can't help the feeling, miss, though I do strive against it," said 
Ann with a half sob. " I know it's wrong, but I can't help myself 
turning cold when I have to come into this part of the house after 
dark." 

" We hear noises in the north wing as we don't hear elsewhere," 
said Martha, shivering. " Miss Ella, it is true — if anything ever 
was true in this world. It was the door of her room we heard just 
now — loud enough too. Just as if the wind had blown it to, or 
as if somebody had shut it in a temper." 

*' There is hardly enough wind this evening to stir a leaf," reproved 
their young mistress. "And you know that every door in the north 
wing is locked outside ; except that of my sitting-room." 



J 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 97 

" No, Miss Ella there's not enough wind, and the doors is locked 
as you say; but we heard one of 'em bang, for all that, and it sounded 
like her door," answered Martha, with respectful persistency. 

Ella looked at the young women. Could she cure them of this 
foolish fear, she asked herself — or, at least, soften it ? 

" Come with me, both of you," she said, taking the candle into 
her hand, and leading the way up the great oaken staircase. Clinging 
to each other, the servants followed. This, the north wing, was the 
oldest part of the house. Here and there a stair creaked beneath 
their footsteps; at every corner there were fantastic shadows that 
seemed to lie in wait and then spring suddenly out. The squeaking 
of a mouse and the pattering of light feet behind the wainscot made 
the girls start and tremble ; but Ella held lightly on her way till the 
corridor that ran along the whole length of the upper floor of the 
wing was reached. Into this corridor some dozen rooms opened. 
Here Ella halted for a moment, and held the candle aloft. 

" You shall see for yourselves that it could not be any of these 
doors you heard. We will examine them one by one." 

One after another the doors were tried by Miss Winter. Each 
door was found to be locked, its key on the outside. When she 
reached Number Nine she drew in her breath and paused for a moment 
before turning the handle : perhaps she did not like that room more 
than the girls did. It was the room they had called ** her room." 
But Number Nine was locked as the others were locked, and Ella 
passed on. 

When all the doors had been tried Ella turned to the servants. 
** You see now that you must have been mistaken," she said, speak- 
ing very gravely ; but in their own minds neither Martha nor Ann 
would have admitted anything of the kind. 

Ella saw they were not satisfied. Leading the way back to Number 
Nine, she turned the key, opened the door, and went in. The two 
girls ventured no farther than the threshold. The room contained 
the ordinary adjuncts of a bed-chamber ; and of one apparently in 
use. Across a chair hung a servant's muslin apron, on the chest of 
drawers lay a servant's cap, a linen collar, and a lavender neck ribbon. 
Simple articles all, yet the two housemaids shuddered when their 
eyes fell on them. In a little vase on the chimney-piece were a 
few withered flowers ; violets and snowdrops. The oval looking-glass 
on the dressing-table was festooned with muslin, tied with bows of 
pink ribbon. But Ella, as she held the candle aloft and gazed round 
the room, saw something to-night that she had never noticed before. 
The bows of ribbon had been untied and the muslin drawn across 
the face of the glass so as completely to cover it. 

Ella had been in the room some weeks ago, and she felt sure that 
the looking-glass was not covered then. It must have been done 
since; but by whom, and why? That none of the seivants would 
enter the room of their own accord she knew quite well : jet whose 

VOL. XXIX. H 



98 The Mysteries of He7'07i Dyke. 

fingers, save those of a servant, could have done it? Despite her 
resolution to be calm, her heart chilled as she asked herself these 
questions, and her eyes wandered involuntarily to the bed, as though 
half expecting to see there the terrible outlines of a form that was 
still for ever. The same idea struck the two girls. 

" Look at that glass ! " cried the one to the other in a semi-whi;,per. 
" It is covered up as if there had been a death in the room." 

Ella could bear no more. Motioning the servants from the room, 
she passed out herself and re-locked the door. But this time she 
took the key with her instead of leaving it in the lock. 

" You see there is nothing to be afraid of," she said to the girls, 
as she gave them back the candle at the foot of the stairs. "Do 
not be so silly again." 

But Ella Winter was herself more perplexed and shaken than she 
allowed to appear, or would have cared to admit. 



CHAPTER VI. 

ONE SNOWY NIGHT. 

One of the last houses that you passed before you began to climb 
the hill into NuUington was the vicarage ; a substantial red-brick 
building of the Georgian era, standing a litde way back from the 
road in a paved fore-court, access to which was obtained through a 
quaintly-wrought iron gateway. At the back of the house was a 
charming terraced garden with an extensive view, some prominent 
features of which were the twisted chimneys of Heron Dyke, and the 
seven tall poplars that overshadowed the moat. Here dwelt the Rev. 
Francis Kettle, vicar of NuUington-cum-Easterby, and his daughter 
Maria. The living was not a very lucrative one, being only of the 
annual value of six hundred pounds ; but the vicar was a man who, 
if his income has been two thousand a year, would have lived up to 
th« full extent of it. He was fond of choice fruits, and generous 
wines, and French side dishes ; while indoors he never did anything 
for himself that a servant could do for him. Out of doors he would 
potter about in his garden by the hour together. He was sixty years 
old, a portly, easy-going, round-voiced man, who read prayers 
admirably, but whose sermons hardly afforded an equal amount of 
satisfactian to the more critical members of his congregation. To 
rich and poor alike Mr. Kettle was bland, genial, and courteous. 
No one ever saw him out of temper. A moment's petulance was all 
that he would exhibit even when called from his warm fireside on a 
winter evening to go through the sloppy streets to pray by the bed- 
side of some poor parishioner. No deserving case ever made a 
direct appeal to his pocket in vain, although the amount given might 
be trifling \ but he was not a man who, even in his younger and 
nioie active days, had been in the habit of seeking out deserving 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 99 

cases for himself. Before all things, Mr. Kettle loved his own ease : 
ease of body and ease of mind : it was constitutional with him to do 
so, and he could not help it. He knew that there was much sin and 
misery in the world, but he preferred not to see them ; he chose 
rather to shut his eyes and walk on the other side of the way. Not 
seeing the sin and misery, there was no occasion for him to trouble 
his mind or pain his heart about them. But if, by chance, some 
heartrending- case, some pathetic tale of human wretchedness, did 
persist in obtruding itself on his notice, and would not be kept 
out of sight, then would all the vicar's finer feelings be on edge for 
the remainder of that day. He would be restless and unhappy, and 
unable to settle down satisfactorily to his ordinary avocations. He 
would be as much hurt and put out of the way morally as he would 
have been hurt physically had he cut his finger. It was very 
thoughtless of people thus to disturb his equanimity and cause him 
such an amount of needless suffering. Next morning, however, the 
vicar would be his old, genial, easy-going self again, and human sin 
and wretchedness, and all the dark problems of life, would, so far as 
he was concerned, have discreetly vanished into the background. 

Perhaps it was a fortunate thing for the vicar that he had a daughter 
— at least, such a daughter as Maria. Whatever shortcomings there 
might be on the father's part were more than compensated for on the 
daughter's. Maria Kettle was one of those women who cannot be 
happy unless they are striving and toiling for someone other than 
themselves. Her own individuality did not suffice for her : she lost 
herself in the wants and needs of others. No one knew the little weak- 
nesses of her father's character better than herself, and no one could 
have striven more earnestly than she strove to cover them up from 
the eyes of the world. If he did not care to visit among the sick 
and necessitous of his flock, or to have his easy selfishness disturbed 
by listening to the story of their troubles, she made such amends as 
lay in her power. She did more, in fact, being a sympathetic and 
large-hearted woman, than it would have been possible for the vicar 
to have done, had his inclinations lain ever so much in that direc- 
tion. In the back streets of Nullington, and among the alleys and 
courts where the labouring people herded together, no figure was 
better known than that of the vicar's daughter, with her homely 
features, her bright, speaking eyes, her dress of dark serge, her thick 
shoes, and her reticule. Litde children who could scarcely talk were 
taught to lisp her name in their prayers, and the oldest of old people, 
as they basked outside their doors in the summer sunshine, blessed 
her, as she passed that way. 

Early in the present year, the state of the vicar's health had 
caused alarm, and he was ordered to the South of France. Maria 
could not let him go alone, and for the time being the parish had to 
be abandoned to its fate, and to the ministrations of a temporary 
clergyman. Maria felt a prevision that she should find most things 



100 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

turned upside down when they got back to it — which proved to be 
the case. She and her father, the latter in good heahh, had now 
returned, and on the day following their arrival, Ella, all eagerness 
to see them, set off to walk to the vicarage. She and Maria were 
close and dear friends. 

That she should be required to tell all about everything that had 
transpired since their absence, Ella knew; it was only natural. More 
especially about that one sad, dark, and most unexplainable event 
which had taken place at the Hall in February last. She already 
shrank from the task in anticipation ; for, in truth, it had shaken her 
terribly, and a haunting dread lay ever on her mind. 

About midway between Heron Dyke and the vicarage, lying a 
little back from the road was a small inn, its sign a somewhat curious 
one, the " Leaning Gate." Its landlord, John Keen, had died 
in it many years ago : since which time it had been kept by his 
widow, a very respectable and hard-working woman, who made her 
guests comfortable in a homely way and who possessed the good-will 
of all the neighbours around. She had two daughters, Susan and 
Katherine ; who were brought up industriously by the mother, and 
were both nice-looking, modest, and good girls. Susan was somewhat 
dull of intellect. Katherine was rather a superior girl in intelligence 
and manners, and very clever with her needle ; she had been the 
favourite pupil in Miss Kettle's school, and later had helped to teach 
in it. Maria esteemed her greatly : and about fourteen months prior 
to the present time, when Miss Winter was wanting a maid, Maria 
said she could not do better than take Katherine. So Katherine 
Keen removed to the Hall, greatly to her mother's satisfaction, for 
she thought it a good opening for the young girl ; but not so much 
to the satisfaction of Susan. 

The sisters were greatly attached to one another. Susan especially 
loved Katherine. It is sometimes noticeable that where the intellect 
is not bright, the feelings are strong; and with an almost unreasonable, 
passionate tenderness Susan Keen loved her sister. Katherine's removal 
to Heron D)ke tried her. She could hardly exist without seeing 
her daily ; and she would put her cloak on when the day's work was 
done — for Susan assisted her mother in the inn — and run up to the 
Hall to see Katherine. But Katherine and Mrs. Keen both told 
her she must not do this : her going so frequently might not be liked 
at the Hall, especially by ill-tempered Aaron Stone and his wife. 
Thus admonished, Susan put a restraint upon herself, so as not to 
trouble anybody too often ; but many an evening she would steal up 
at dusk, walk round the Hall, and stand outside watching the 
windows, hoping to get just one distant glimpse of her beloved 
Katherine. 

The time went on to February in the present year, Katherine 
giving every satisfaction at Heron Dyke : even old Aaron would now 
and then afford her a good word. And it should be mentioned that 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. lOi 

the girl had made no fresh acquaintance ; either of man or woman 
— she was thoroughly well-conducted in every way. 

Miss Winter's own sitting-room and her bed-room were in the 

north wing. She had chosen them there on account of the beautiful 

view of the sea from the windows. Katherine slept in a room near 

her. On the evening of the fifteenth of February they were both 

in the sitting-room at work ; Ella was making garments for some 

poor children in the village and had called Katherine to assist. 

Katherine had a headache \ it got worse ; and at nine o'clock, Ella 

told her she had better go to bed. The girl thanked her, lighted 

her candle and went ; Ella, who went at the same time to her own 

room to get something she. wanted, saw her enter her chamber and 

heard her lock herself in : and from that moment, Katherine Keen 

was never seen, alive or dead. Before the night was over, Ella — as 

you will hear her tell presently — had occasion to go to Katherine's 

room ; she found the door unlocked, and Katherine absent, the bed 

not having been slept in. Her apron, cap, collar, and neck -ribbon lay 

about, showing that she had begun to undress j but that was all. Of 

herself there was no trace ; there never had been any since that night. 

That she had not left the house was a matter of absolute fact, for 

old Aaron had already fastened the front door, and there could be no 

€gress from it. In short it was a strange mystery, and puzzled the 

world. Where was she ? What could have become of her ? The 

matter caused no end of stir and commotion. Old Squire Denison, 

very much troubled at the extraordinary occurrence, instituted all 

kinds of enquiries, but to no purpose. Every nook and corner in 

the spacious house was searched again and again. Aaron Stone, 

cross enough with the girl often-times beforehand, seemed troubled 

with the rest ; his wife declared openly, her eyes round with terror, 

that the girl must have been "spirited" away. The grandson, 

Hubert, was away at the time, and knew absolutely nothing whatever 

of the occurrence. 

But the sister, Susan, had a tale to tell, and it was a curious one. 
It appeared that that same morning she had met Katherine in the 
village, doing an errand for Miss Winter. Susan told her that a letter 
had come from their brother — a young man older than themselves, 
who had gone some years before to an uncle in Australia — and that 
she would bring it to the Hall that evening. However, when even- 
ing came, snow began to fall, and Mrs. Keen would not let Susan 
.go out in it, for she had a cold. Presently the snow ceased, and 
Susan, wrapping her cloak about her, started with the letter. As 
she neared the Hall the clock struck nine — too late for Susan to 
attempt to call, for after that hour her visits were interdicted. She 
hovered about a short while, lest haply she might see one of the 
housemaids hastening home from some errand, and could send in 
the letter by her, or perhaps catch a glimpse of her darling sister at 
her window. The sky was clear then, the moon shining brilliantly 



102 The Mysteries of Hcro)i Dyke. 

on the snowy ground. As Susan stood there, a light appeared in 
Katherine's room. She fancied she saw the curtain pulled momen- 
tarily aside, but she saw no more. While thus watching, Susan was 
startled by a cry, or scream of terror; two screams, the last very faint^ 
but following close upon the other. They appeared to come from 
inside the house, Susan thought inside the room, and were in her 
sister's voice — of that, Susan felt an absolute certainty. A little thing 
served to terrify her. She took to her heels, and burst into her 
mother's kitchen in a pitiable state. The mother, and two or three 
people sitting in the inn, took it for granted that the cry must have 
been that of some night-bird \ and the terrified girl was got to bed. 

With the morning news was brought to the inn of Katherine's strange 
disappearance; and, as already said, she had never been heard of 
from that day. Nothing could shake Susan's belief that it was her 
sister's screams ; she declared she knew her voice too well to be mis- 
taken. The event had a sad effect upon her mind : at times she really 
seemed but half-witted. She could not be persuaded but that Katherine 
was still in the house at Heron Dyke ; and as often as she could escape 
her mother's vigilance would steal up in the dark and hover about 
outside, looking at the windows for Katherine : nay, more than once 
believing that she saw her appear at one of them. 

Such was the occurrence that had served to shake Miss Winter's 
nerves, and that she was on her way now to the vicarage to be (as 
she well knew) cross-questioned about. 

Mr. Kettle met her with a fatherly kiss ; telling her she looked 
bonnier than ever and that there was nothing like an English rosebud. 
Maria clasped her in her arms. Ella took her bonnet off and sat 
down with them in the bow-windowed parlour open to the summer 
breeze : and for some time it was hard to sa«y which of the three 
talked the fastest. The vicar began, as a matter of course, about 
the shortcomings in the parish during his absence, especially about 
the churchwardens' difficulties with Pennithorne — the t2:j porary 
parson. That gentleman had persisted in having two big candle- 
sticks on the altar where no such articles had ever been seen before, 
and had attempted to establish a daily service, which had proved tO' 
be an ignominious failure, together with other changes and innovations 
that were more open to objection. Ella confirmed it all, and the 
vicar worked himself into a fume. 

"Confound the fellow!" he exclaimed, "I'd never have gone 
away had I known. Who was to suspect that meek-looking young 
jackanapes, with his gold-rimmed spectacles, had so much mischief 

in him. He looked as mild as new milk. And now, my dear, 

what about that strange afi"air concerning Katherine Keen?" resumed 
the vicar, after a pause. "Your letter to us, describing it, was hardly 
— hardly credible." 

" And it was — and is — hardly credible," replied Ella. 

" Well, child, just go over it now quietly." 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 103 

The light died out of Ella's eyes, and her face saddened. But 
she complied with the request ; not dwelling very minutely upon 
the particulars. The vicar and Maria listened to her in silence. 

" It is the most unaccountable thing I ever heard of," cried the 
vicar impulsively when it was over. "Locked up in her room and 
disappeared ! Is there a trap-door in the floor ? " 

Ella shook her head sadly. " The waxed boards of the room are 
all sound and firm." 

" And she could not have come out of her room and got out of 
the house, you say ? " 

" No. It was not possible. She had a bad headache, as I tell 
you, and I told her she had better go to bed ; that was about nine 
o'clock. While she was folding up the child's petticoat she had 
been sewing at, Aaron came into the room to say that Uncle Gilbert 
was asking for me. Katherine lighted both the bed candles, which 
were on a tray outside, and we left the room together. I ran into my 
own room and caught up my prayer-book, for sometimes my uncle lets 
me read the evening psalms to him. Katherine was going into her 
room as I ran out ; she wished me good-night, went in, and locked it." 

" Locked it ! " exclaimed the vicar. " A bad habit to sleep with 
the door locked. Suppose a fire broke out ! " 

" I used to tell her so ; but she said she could not feel safe with 
it unlocked. She and Susan were once frightened in the night when 
they were little girls, and had locked their door ever since. I went 
on down to Uncle Gilbert," continued Ella. "Aaron was then bolt- 
ing and barring the house-door — and, considering that he always 
carries away the key in his own pocket, you will readily see that 
poor Katherine had no chance of getting out by it." 

" There was the back door," said the vicar : who, to use his own 
words, could not see daylight in this story. " Your great entrance 
door is, I know, kept barred and locked always." 

*' Yes. Aaron went straight to the back door from the front, 
fastened up that, and in like manner carried away the key. Believe 
me, dear Mr. Kettle, there was no chance that Katherine could go 
out of the house. And why should she wish to do so ? " 

" Well, go on, child. You found the room empty yourself in the 
middle of the night — was it not so ? " 

" Yes — and that was a strange thing ; very strange," replied Ella, 
musingly. " I went to bed as usual, and slept well ; but at four 
o'clock in the morning I was suddenly awakened by hearing, as I 
thought, Uncle Gilbert calling me. I awoke in a fright^ you must 
understand, and I don't know why : I have thought since that I 
must have had some disagreeable dream, though I did not remember 
it. I sat up in bed to listen, not really knowing whether Uncle 
Gilbert had called me, or whether I had only dreamt it " 

" You could not hear your uncle calling all the way up in the 
north wing, Ella," interrupted Miss Kettle. 



104 '^^^^ Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

" No ; and I knew, if he had called, that he must have left his 
room and come to the stairs. I heard no more, but I was uneasy, 
and felt that I ought to go and see. I put on my slippers and my 
warm dressing-gown, and lighted my candle ; but — you will forgive 
me my foolishness, I hope — I felt too nervous to go down alone ; 
though again I say I knew not why I should feel so ; and I thought 
I would call Katherine to go with me. I opened her door and 
entered, not remembering until afterwards that I ought to have 
found it locked. The first thing I saw was her candle burnt down 
to the socket, its last sparks were just flickering, and that the bed 
had not been slept in. Katherine's apron and cap were lying there, 
but she was gone." 

'•' It is most strange," cried Mr. Kettle. 
*' It is more than strange," returned Ella, with a half sob. 
*' And, my dear, had your uncle called you ? " 
" No. He had had a good night, and was sleeping still." 
" Well, I can't make it out. Was Katherine in bad spirits that 
last evening ? " 

" Not at all. Her head pained her, but she was merry enough. 
I rem.ember her laughing early in the evening. She drew aside the 
curtain by my direction to see what sort of a night it was, and ex- 
claimed that it was snowing. Then she laughed and said how poor 
Susan would be disappointed, for her mother would be sure not to 
let her come up through the snow. Susan was to have brought up 
a letter they had received from the brother." 

"And what is the tale about Susan coming up when the snow 
was over, and hearing screams ? Did you hear them in the 
house?" 

" No. None of us heard anything of the kind." 
" But if, as I am told Susan says, it was her sister who screamed 
in the room, some of you must have heard it." 

" I am not so sure of that," replied Ella. " Uncle Gilbert's 
sitting-room — I had gone down to him then — is very remote from 
the north wing; and so are the shut-in kitchen apartments. Aaron 
ought to have heard down in the hall; but he says he did not." 
" Then, in point of fact, nobody heard these cries but Susan ? " 
*' Yes ; Tom, the coachman's boy, heard them. Tom had been out 
of doors doing something for his father, and was close to the stables, 
going in again, when he heard two screams, the last one much fainter 
than the other. Tom says the cries had a sort of muffled sound, and, 
for that reason, he thought they were inside the house. So far, poor 
Susan's account is borne out." 

" And the house doors were found still fastened in the morning ?" 
" Bolted and barred and locked as usual, when old Aaron undid 
them. More snow had fallen in the night, covering the ground well. 
Katherine has never been heard of in any way since." 

Mr. Kettle sat revolving the tale. It was quite beyond his compre- 



TJie Mysteries of Heroji Dyke, 1 05 

hension. " In point of fact, the girl disappeared," he said presently, 
*' I can make nothing more of it than that." 

*' That is the precise word for it — disappeared," assented Ella, in 
a low tone. " And so unaccountably that it seems just as if she had 
vanished into air. The feeling of discomfort it has left amongst us 
in Heron Dyke can never be described." 

" Do you still sleep in the north wing ? " asked Maria, the thought 
occurring to her. 

" Oh no. I changed my room after that." 

Ella had told all she had to tell. But the theme was full of interest, 
and the vicar and Maria plied her with questions all through luncheon, 
to which meal they made her stay. She left when it was over ; her 
uncle might want her ; and Maria put on her bonnet to walk with her 
a portion of the way. Their road took them past the ''Leaning Gate." 

Mrs. Keen was having the sign repainted — a swinging gate that 
hung aloft beside the inn. A girl, the one young servant kept, stood 
with her arms a-kimbo, looking up at the process. The landlady 
was a short, active, bustling woman, with a kind, motherly face and 
pleasant dark eyes. 

" How do you do, Mrs. Keen ? " called out Maria, as they were 
passing. 

Mrs. Keen came running up, and took the oiTered hand into 
both of hers. " I heard you were back, Miss Maria, and glad enough 
we shall be of it. But — but — " 

She could not go on. The remembrance of what had happened 
overcame her, and she burst into tears. 

" Yes, young ladies, I know your kind sympathy, and I hope 
you'll forgive me," she said, after listening to the few words of 
consolation they both strove to speak — though, indeed, what 
consolation could there be for such a case as hers ? 

" We had been gone away so short a time when it happened ! " 
lamented Maria. 

"You left on the first of February, Miss Maria, and this was on 
the night of the fifteenth," said Mrs. Keen, wiping her eyes with her 
ample white apron. " Ah, it has been a dreadful thing ! It is the 
uncertainty, the suspense, you see, ladies, that is so bad to bear. 
Sometimes I think I should be happy if I could only know she was 
dead and at rest." 

" How is Susan ? " asked Maria. 

" Susan's getting almost silly with it," spoke the landlady lowering 
her voice, as she glanced over her shoulder at the house. " She has 
all sorts of wild fancies in her head, poor girl; thinking — thinking — " 

Mrs. Keen glanced at Miss Winter, and broke off. The words 
she had been about to say were these : " Thinking that Katherine, 
dead or alive, is still at Heron Dyke." 

( To he cjntinued. ) 



io6 



VERENA FONTAINE'S REBELLION. 

STRIDING along through South Crabb, and so on down by old 
Massock's brick fields, went Sir Dace Fontaine, dark and 
gloomy. His heavy stick and his heavy tread kept pace together ; 
both might have been the better for a little lightness. 

Matters were not going on too smoothly at Maythorn Bank. 
Seemingly obedient to her father, Verena Fontaine contrived to 
meet her lover, and did not take extraordinary pains to keep it 
secret. Sir Dace, watching stealthily, found it out, and felt just 
about at his wits' end. 

He had no power to banish Edward Pym from the place : he had 
none, one must conclude, to exact submission from Verena. She 
had observed to me, the first night we met, that American girls grow 
up to be independent of control in many ways. That is true : and, 
as it seems to me, they think great guns of themselves for being so. 

Sir Dace was beginning to turn his anger on Colonel Letsom. As 
chance had it, while he strode along this morning, full of wrath, the 
Colonel came in view, turning the corner of the strongest and most 
savoury brick-yard. 

" Why do you harbour that fellow ? " broke out Sir Dace, fiercely, 
without circumlocution of greeting. 

" What, young Pym ? " cried the little Colonel in his mild way, 
jumping to the other's meaning. " I don't suppose he will stay with 
us long. He is expecting a summons to join his ship." 

" But why do you have him at your house at all ? " reiterated Sir 
Dace, with a thump of his stick. " Why did you take him in ? " 

"Well, you see, he came down, a stranger, and presented himself 
to us, caUing my wife Aunt, though she is not really so, and said he 
would like to stay a few days with us. We could not turn him away, 
Sir Dace. In fact we had no objection to his staying ; he behaves 
himself very well. He'll not be here long." 

" He has been here a great deal too long," growled Sir Dace ; and 
went on his way muttering. 

Nothing came of this complaint of Sir Dace Fontaine's. Edward 
Pym continued to stay at Crabb, Colonel Letsom not seeing his way 
clear to send him adrift ; perhaps not wanting to. The love-making 
went on. In the green meadows, where the grass and the sweet wild 
flowers were springing up, in the ravine, between its sheltering banks, 
redolent of romance ; or in the triangle, treading under-foot the late 
primroses and violets — in one or other of these retreats might Mr. 
Pym and his ladye-love be seen together, listening to the tender vows 
whispered between them, and to the birds' songs. 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 107 

Sir Dace, conscious of all this, grew furious, and matters came to 
a climax. Verena was bold enough to steal out one night to meet 
Pym for a promenade with him in the moonlight, and Sir Dace came 
upon them sitting on the stile at the end of the cross lane. He 
gave it Pym hot and strong, marched Verena home, and the next day 
carried both his daughters away from Crabb. 

But I ought to mention that I had gone away from Crabb myself 
before this, and was in London with Miss Deveen. So that what had 
been happening lately I only knew by hearsay. 

To what part of the world Sir Dace went, was not known. Natur- 
ally Crabb was curious upon the point. Just as naturally it was sup- 
posed that Pym, having nothing to stay for, would now take his 
departure. Pym, however, stayed on. 

One morning Mr. Pym called at Maythorn Bank, An elderly woman, 
one Betty Huntsman, who had been employed by the Fontaines as 
cook, opened the door to him. The coloured man, Ozias, and a 
maid, Esther, had gone away with the family. It was the second time 
Mr. Pym had presented himself upon the same errand : to get the 
address of Sir Dace Fontaine. Betty, obeying her master's orders, 
had refused it ; this time he had come to bribe her. Old Betty, how- 
ever, an honest, kindly old woman, refused to be bribed. 

" I can't do it, sir," she said to Pym. " When the master wrote 
to give me the address, on account of sending him his foreign letters, 
he forbade me to disclose it to anybody down here. It is only my- 
self that knows it, sir." 

" It is in London ; I know that much," affirmed Pym, making a 
shot at the place, and so far taking in old Betty. 

" That much may possibly be known, sir. I cannot tell 
more." 

Back went Pym to Colonel Letsom's. He sat down and wrote a 
letter in a young lady's hand — for he had all kinds of writing at his 
fingers' ends — and addressed it to Mrs. Betty Huntsman at May- 
thorn Bank, Worcestershire. This he enclosed in a bigger envelope, 
with a few lines from himself, and posted it to London, to one Alfred 
Saxby, a sailor friend of his. He next, in a careless, off-hand man- 
ner, asked Colonel Letsom if he'd mind calUng at Maythorn Bank, 
and asking the old cook there if she could give him her master's 
address. Oh, Pym was as cunning as a fox, and could lay out his 
plans artfully. And Colonel Letsom, unsuspicious as the day, and 
willing to obhge everybody, did call that afternoon to put the question 
to Betty : but she told him she was not at liberty to give the address. 

The following morning, Pym got the summons he had been ex- 
pecting, to join his ship. The Rose of DelJii was now ready to 
take in cargo. After swearing a little, down sat Mr. Pym to his desk, 
and in a shaky hand, to imitate a sick man's, wrote back word that 
he was ill in bed, but would endeavour to be up in London on the 
morrow. 



I08 Verena Fontaine 's Rebellion. 

And, the morning following this, Mrs. Betty Huntsman got a letter 

from London. 

"London, Thursday. 

"Dear old Betty, — I am writing to you for papa, who is very poorly 

indeed. Should Colonel Letsom apply to you for our address here, 

you are to give it him : papa wishes him to have it. We hope your 

wrist is better. ,.^ ^ „ 

" CoRALiE Fontaine." 

Betty Huntsman, honest herself, never supposed but the letter was 
written by Miss Fontaine. By and by, there came a ring at the bell. 

" My uncle, Colonel Letsom, requested me to call here this morn- 
ing, as I was passing on my way to Timberdale Rectory," began Mr. 
Pym ; for it was he who rang, and by his authoritative voice and 
lordly manner, one might have thought he was on board a royal 
frigate, commanding a cargo of refractory soldiers. 

"Yes, sir?" answered Betty, dropping a curtsey. 

" Colonel Letsom wants your master's address in London — if you 
can give it him. He has to write to Sir Dace to-day." 

Betty produced a card from her innermost pocket, and showed it 
to Mr. Pym : who carefully copied down the address. 

That he was on his way to Timberdale Rectory, was nof a ruse. 
He went on there through the ravine at the top of his speed, and 
asked for Captain Tanerton. 

" Have got orders to join ship, sir, and am going up this morning. 
Any commands ?" 

" To join what ship ?" questioned Jack. 

"The Rose of Delhi, She is beginning to load." 

Jack paused. " Of course you must go up, as you are sent for. 
But I don't think you will go out in the Rose of Delhi^ Mr. Pym. I 
should recommend you to look out for another ship." 

" Time enough for that. Captain Tanerton, when I get my dis- 
charge from the Rose of Delhi : I have not got it yet," returned 
Pym, who seemed to take a private delight in thwarting his captain. 

"Well, I shall be in London myself shortly, and will see about 
things," spoke Jack. 

" Any commands, sir ? " 

" Not at present." 

Taking his leave of Colonel and Mrs. Letsom, and thanking them 
for their hospitality, Edward Pym departed for London by an after- 
noon train. He left his promises and vows to the young Letsoms, 
boys and girls, to come down again at the close of the next voyage, 
little dreaming, poor ill-fated young man, that he would never go 
upon another. Captain Tanerton wrote at once to head quarters in 
Liverpool, saying he did not wish to retain Pym as chief mate, and 
would like another one to be appointed. Strolling back to Timber- 
dale Rectory from posting the letter at Salmon's, John Tanerton fell 
into a brown study. 



\ 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion, 109 

A curious feeling, against taking Pym out again, lay within him ; 
like an instinct, it seemed ; a prevision of warning. Jack was fully 
conscious of it, though he knew not why it should be there. It was 
a great deal stronger than could have been prompted by his disappro- 
bation of the man's carelessness in his duties on board. 

" I'll go up to London to-morrow," he decided. ** Best to do so. 
Pym means to sail in the Rose of Delhi if he can ; just, I expect, 
because he sees I don't wish him to : the man's nature is as contrary 
as two sticks. I'll not have him again at any price. Yes, I must 
go up to-morrow." 

" L'homme propose " — we know the proverb. Very much to 
Jack's surprise, his wife arrived that evening at the Rectory from 
Liverpool, with her eldest child, Polly. Therefore, Jack did not 
start for London on the morrow ; it would not have been at all polite. 

He went up the following week. His first visit was to Eastcheap, 
in which bustling quarter stood the office of Mr. James Freeman, the 
ship's broker. After talking a bit about the ship and her cargo. Jack 
spoke of Pym. 

" Has a first officer been appointed in Pym's place ? " 

"No," said Mr. Freeman. *' Pym goes out with you again." 

** I told you I did not wish to take Pym again," cried Jack. 

" You said something about it, I know, and we thought of putting 
in the mate from the Star of Lahore ; but he wants to keep to his 
own vessel." 

" I won't take Pym." 

''But why, Captain Tanerton ?" 

" We don't get on together. I never had an officer who gave me 
so much provocation — the Americans would say, who riled me so. I 
believe the man dislikes me, and for that reason was insubordinate. 
He may do better in another ship. I am a strict disciplinarian oii 
board." 

" Well," carelessly observed the broker, " you will have to make 
the best of him this voyage, Captain Tanerton. It is decided that 
he sails with you again." 

" Then, don't be surprised if there's murder committed," was 
Jack's impetuous answer. 

And Mr. Freeman stared : and noted the words. 

The midday sun was shining hotly upon the London pavement, 
and especially upon the glittering gold band adorning the cap of a 
lithe, handsome young sailor, who had just got out of a cab, and 
was striding along as though he wanted to run a race with the clocks. 
It was Edward Pym : and the reader will please take notice that 
we have gone back a few days, for this was the day following Pym's 
arrival in London. 

" Halt a step," cried he to himself, his eye catching the name 
written up at a street corner. " I must be out of my bearings." 



no Verena Fontaine'' s Rebellion. 

Taking from his pocket a piece of paper, he read some words 
written there. It was no other than the address he had got from 
Betty Huntsman the previous day. 

"Woburn Place, Russell Square," repeated he. "This is not it. 
I'll be shot if I know where I am ! — Can you tell me my way to 
Woburn Place ? " asked he, of a gentleman who was passing. 

'' Turn to the left ; you will soon come to it." 

" Thank you," said Pym. 

The right house sighted at last, Mr. Pym took his standing in a 
friendly door-way on the other side the road, and put himself on the 
watch. Very much after the fashion of a bailiff's man, who wants to 
serve a writ. 

He glanced up at the windows ; he looked down at the doors ; he 
listened to the sound of a church clock striking ; he scraped his feet 
in impatience, now one foot, now the other. Nothing came of it. 
The rooms behind the curtained windows might be untenanted for 
all the sign given out to the eager eyes of ^Ir. Pym. 

" Hang it all !" he cried, in an explosion of impatience : and he 
couW have sent the silent dwelling to Jericho. 

No man of business likes his time to be wasted : and Mr. Pym 
could very especially not afford to waste his to-day. For he was 
supposed to be at St. Katherine's Docks, checking cargo on board 
the Rose of Delhi. When twelve o'clock struck, the dinner hour, he 
had made a rush from the ship, telling the foreman of the shed not 
to ship any more cargo till he came back in half an hour, and had 
come dashing up here in a fleet cab. The half hour had expired, 
and another half hour to it, and it was a great deal more than time 
to dash back again. If anybody from the office chanced to go down 
to the ship, what a row there'd be ! — and he would probably get his 
discharge. 

He had not been lucky in his journey from Worcestershire the 
previous day. The train was detained so on the line, through 
some heavy waggons having come to grief, that he did not reach 
London till late at night j too late to go down to his lodgings 
near the docks ; so he slept at an hotel. This morning he had 
reported himself at the broker's office ; and Mr. Freeman, after 
blowing him up for his delay, ordered him on board at once : since 
they began to load, two days ago now, a clerk from the office 
had been down on the ship, making up the cargo-books in Pym's 
place. 

" I'll be hanged if I don't believe they must all be dead ! " cried 
Pym, gazing at the house. " Why does not somebody show himself. 
I can't post the letter — for I know my letters to her are being sup- 
pressed. And I dare not leave it at the door myself, lest that can- 
tankerous Ozias should answer me, and hand it to old Dace, instead 
of to Vera." 

Luck at last ! The door opened, an i a maid servant came out 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. Ill 

with a jug, her bonnet thrown on perpendicularly. Mr. Pym kept 
her in view, and caught her up as she was nearing a public house. 

" You come from Mrs. Ball's, Woburn Place ? " said he. 

"Yes, sir," answered the girl, doubtfully, rather taken aback at 
the summary address, but capitulating to the gold-lace band. 

" I want you to give this letter privately to Miss Verena Fontaine. 
When she is quite alone, you understand. And here's half-a-crown, 
my pretty lass, for your trouble." 

The girl touched neither letter nor money. She surreptitiously 
put her bonnet straight, in her gratified vanity. 

" But I can't give it, sir," she said. " Though I'm sure I'd be 
happy to oblige you if I could. The Miss Fontaines and their papa 
is not with us now; they've gone away." 

" What ?" cried Pym, setting his teeth angrily, an expression cross- 
ing his face that marred all its good looks. " When did they leave? 
Where are they gone to ? " 

" They left yesterday, sir, and they didn't say where. That black 
servant of theirs and our cook couldn't agree ; there was squabbles 
perpetual. None of us liked him : it don't seem Christian-like to 
have a black man sitting down to table with you. Mrs. Ball, our 
missis, she took our part ; and the young ladies and their papa they 
naturally took his part : and so, they left." 

"Can I see Mrs. Ball?" asked Pym, after mentally anathematising 
servants in general, black and white. " Is she at home ? " 

" Yes, sir, and she'll see you, I'm sure. She is vexed at their 
having left." 

He dropped the half-crown into the girl's hand, returned the note 
to his pocket, and went to the house. Mrs. Ball, a talkative, good- 
humoured woman in a rusty black silk gown, with red cheeks and 
quick brown eyes, opened the door to him herself. 

She invited him in. She would have given him Sir Dace Fon- 
taine's address with all the pleasure in life, if she had it, she said. 
Sir Dace did not leave it with her. He simply bade her take in any 
letters that might come, and he would send for them. 

" Have you not any notion where they went ? — to what part of the 
town ? " asked the discomfited Pym. That little trick he had played 
Betty Huntsman was of no use to him now. 

" Not any. Truth to say, I was too vexed to ask," confessed Mrs. 
Ball. " I knew nothing about their intention to leave until they 
were packing up. Sir Dace paid me a week's rent in lieu of warning, 
and away they went in two cabs. You are related to them, sir ? 
There's a look in your face that Sir Dace has got." 

Mr. Pym knitted his brow ; he did not take it as a compliment. 
Many people had seen the same likeness ; though he was a handsome 
young man and Sir Dace an ugly old one. 

" If you can get their address, I shall be much obliged to you to 
keep it for me ; I will call again to-morrow evening," were his parting 



112 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

words to the landlady. And he went rattling back to the docks as 
fast as wheels could take him. 

Mr. Pym went up to Woburn Place the following evening accord- 
ingly, but the landlady had no news to give him. He went the next 
evening after, and the next, and the next. All the same. He went 
so long and to so little purpose that he at last concluded the Fon- 
taines were not in London. Sir Dace neither sent a messenger nor 
wrote for any letters there might be. Two were waiting for him ; no 
more. Edward Pym and Mrs. Ball became, so to say, quite intimate. 
She had much sympathy with the poor young man, who wanted to 
find his relatives before he sailed — and could not. 

It may as well be told, not to make an unnecessary mystery of it, 
that the Fontaines had gone straight to Brighton. At length, how- 
ever, Mrs. Ball was one day surprised by a visit from Ozias. She 
never bore malice long, and received him civilly. Her rooms were 
let again, so she had got over the smart. 

" At Brighton ! " she exclaimed, when she heard where they had 
been — for the man had no orders to conceal it. " I thought it 
strange that your master did not send for his letters. And how are 
the young ladies ? And where are you staying now ? " 

" The young ladies, they well," answered Ozias. " We stay now at 
one big house in Marylebone Road. We come up yesterday to this 
London town : Sir Dace, he find the sea no longer do for him ; 
make him have much bile." 

Edward Pym had been in a rage at not finding Verena. Verena, 
on her part, though rather wondering that she did not hear from him, 
looked upon his silence as only a matter of precaution. When they 
were settled at Woburn Place, after leaving Crabb, she had written 
to Pym, enjoining him not to reply. It might not be safe, she 
said, for Coralie had gone over to " the enemy," meaning Sir Dace • 
Edward must contrive to see her when he came to London to join 
his ship. And when the days went on, and Verena saw nothing of 
her lover, she supposed he was not yet in London. She went to 
Brighton supposing the same. But, now that they were back from 
Brighton, and still neither saw Pym nor heard from him, Verena 
grew uneasy, fearing that the Rose of Delhi had sailed. 

" What a strange thing it is about Edward ! " she exclaimed one 
evening to her sister. " I think he must have sailed. He would 
be sure to come to us if he were in London." 

" How should he know where we are ? " dissented Coralie. " For 
all he can tell, Vera, we may be in the moon." 

A look of triumph crossed Vera's face. '' He knows the address 
in Woburn Place, Coral, for I wrote and gave it him : and Mrs. 
Ball would direct him here. Papa sent Ozias there to-day for his 
letters ; and I know Edward would never cease going there, day by 
day, to ask for news, until he heard of me." 

Coralie laughed softly. Unlocking her writing-case, she displayed 



Vereria Fontaine's Rebellion. 113 

a letter that lay snugly between its leaves. It was the one that Vera 
had written at Woburn Place. Verena turned very angry, but 
Coralie made light of it. 

" As I daresay he has already sailed, I confess my treachery, Vera. 
It was all done for your good. Better think no more of Edward Pym." 

*' You wicked thing ! You are more cruel than Bluebeard. I 
shall take means to ascertain whether the Rose of Delhi is gone. 
Captain Tanerton made a boast that he'd not take Edward out again, 
but he may not have been able to help himself," pursued Vera, her 
tone significant. " Edward intended to go in her^ and he has a friend 
at court." 

" A friend at court ! " repeated Coralie. " What do you mean ? 
Who is it ? " 

" It is the Freemans' out-door manager at Liverpool, and the ship's 
husband — a Mr. Gould. He came up here when the ship got in, 
and he and Edward made friends together. The more readily 
because Gould and Captain Tanerton are not friends. The Captain 
complained to the owners last time of something or other connected 
with the ship — some bad provisions, I think, that had been put on 
board, and insisted on its being rectified. As Mr. Gould was 
responsible, he naturally resented this, and ever since he has been fit 
to hang Captain Tanerton." 

'' How do you know all this, Verena ? " 

" From Edward. He told me at Crabb. Mr. Gould has a great deal 
more to do with choosing the officers than the Freemans themselves 
have, and he promised Edward he should remain in the Rose of Delhi.^^ 

" It is strange Edward should care to remain in the ship when her 
commander does not like him," remarked Coralie. 

" He stays in because of that — to thwart Tanerton," laughed 
Verena lightly. " Pardy, at least. But he thinks, you see, and I 
think, that his remaining for two voyages in a ship that has so good 
a name may tell well for him with papa. Now you know. Coral." 



II. 
The lovers met. Pym found her out through Mrs. Ball. And 
Verena, thoroughly independent in her notions, put on her bonnet, 
and walked with him up and down the Marylebone Road. 

"We sail this day week. Vera," he said. " My life has been a 
torment to me, fearing I should not see you before the ship went out 
of dock. And, in that case, I don't think I should have gone in 
her ' 

" Is it the Rose of Delhi V asked Vera. 

" Of course. I told you Gould would manage it. She is first- 
rate in every way, and the most comfortable ship I ever was in — 
barring the skipper." 

" You don't like him, I know. And he does not like you." 

VOL. XXIX. I 



114 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion, 

" I hate and detest him," said Pym warmly — therefore, as the 
reader must perceive, no love was lost between him and Jack. " He 
is an awful screw for keeping one to one's duty, and I expect we 
shall have no end of squalls. Ah, Verena," continued the young 
man, in a changed tone, " had you only listened to my prayers at 
Crabb, I need not have sailed again at all." 

Mr. Edward Pym was a bold wooer. He had urged Verena to cut 
the matter short by marrying him at once. She stopped his words. 

" I will marry you in twelve months from this, if all goes well, but 
not before. It is waste of time to speak of it, Edward — as I have 
told you. Were I to marry without papa's consent — and you know 
he will not give it — he can take most of the money that came to me 
from mamma. Only a small income would remain to me. I shall 
not risk that." 

" As if Sir Dace would exact it ! He might go into one of his 
passions at first, but he'd soon come round ; he'd not touch your 
money, Vera." And Edward Pym, in saying this, fully believed it. 

"You don't know papa. I have been used to luxuries, Edward, 
and I could not do without them. What would two hundred 
pounds ayear be for me — living as I have lived ? And for you, also, 
for you would be my husband ? Next May I shall be of age, and my 
fortune will be safe — all my own." 

"A thousand things may happen in a year," grumbled Pym, who 
was wild to lead an idle life, and hated the discipline on board ship. 
" The Rose of Delhi may go down, and I with it." 

" She has not gone down yet. Why should she go down now ? " 

" What right had Coralie to intercept your letter ? " asked Pym, 
passing to another phase of his grievances. 

" She had no right ; but she did it. I asked Esther, our own 
maid, to run and put it in the post for me. Coralie, coming in 
from walking, met Esther at the door, saw the letter in her hand, 
and took it from her, saying she would go back and post it herself. 
Perhaps Esther suspected something: she did not tell me this. Coralie 
had the face to tell it me herself yesterday." 

" Well, Vera, you should have managed better," returned Pym, 
feeling frightfully cross. 

" Oh, Edward, don't you see how it is ? " wailed the girl, in a 
piteous tone of appeal — " that they are all against me. Or, rather, 
against you. Papa, Coralie, and Ozias : and I fancy now that Coralie 
has spoken to Esther. Papa makes them think as he thinks." 

" It is a fearful shame. Is this to be our only interview ? " 

" No," said Vera. " I will see you every day until you sail." 

" You may not be able to. We shall be watched, now Coralie 
has turned against us." 

" I will see you every day until you sail," repeated the girl, with 
impassioned fervour. "Come what may, I will contrive to see 
you." 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 115 

In making this promise, Miss Verena Fontaine probably did not 
understand the exigencies on a chief mate's time when a ship is 
getting ready for sea. To rush up from the docks at the midday 
hour, and rush back again in time for work, was not practicable. 
Pym had done it once ; he could not do it twice. Therefore, the 
only time to be seized upon was after six o'clock, when the Rose 
vf Delhi was left to herself and her watchman for the night, and the 
dock gates were shut. This brought it, you see, to about seven 
o'clock, before Pym could be hovering, like a wandering ghost, up 
and down the Marylebone Road; for he had to go to his lodgings 
in Ship Street first and put himself to rights after his day's work, to 
say nothing of drinking his tea. And seven o'clock was Miss 
Verena Fontaine's dinner hour. Sir Dace Fontaine's mode of dining 
was elaborate ; and, what with the side-dishes, the puddings and the 
dessert, it was never over much before nine o'clock. 

For two days Verena made her dinner at luncheon. Late dining 
did not agree with her, she told Coralie, and she should prefer some 
tea in her room. Coralie watched, and saw her come stealing in 
-each night soon after nine. Until that hour, she had promenaded 
with Edward Pym in the bustling lighted streets, or in the quieter 
walks of the Regent's Park. On the third day, Sir Dace told her 
that she must be in her place at the dinner-table. Verena wondered 
whether the order emanated from his arbitrary temper, or whether 
he had any suspicion. So, that evening she dined as usual ; and 
when she and Coralie went into the drawing-room at eight o'clock, 
she said her. head ached, and she should go to bed. 

That night there was an explosion. Docked of an hour at the 
beginning of their interview, the two lovers made out for it by linger- 
ing together an hour longer at the end of it. It was striking ten 
when Verena came in, and found herself confronted by her father. 
Verena gave Coralie the credit of betraying her, but in that she was 
wrong. Sir Dace — he might have had his suspicions — suddenly 
called for a particular duet that was a favourite with his daughters, 
bade Coralie look it out, and sent up for Verena to come down and 
sing it. Miss Verena was not to be found, so could not obey. 

Sir Dace, I say, met her on the stairs as she came in. He put 
his hand on her shoulder to turn her footsteps to the drawing-room, 
and shut the door. Then came the explosion. Verena did not deny 
that she had been out with Pym. And Sir Dace, in very undrawing 
room-like language, swore that she should see Pym no more. 

"We have done no harm, papa. We have been to Madame 
Tussaud's." 

" Listen to me, Verena. Attempt to go outside this house again 
while that villain is in London, and I will carry you off, as I carried 
you from Crabb. You cannot beard me:' 

It was not pleasant to look at the face of Sir Dace as he said it. 
At these moments of excitement, it would take a dark tinge under- 



Ii6 Veretia Fontaine's Rebellion. 

neath the skin, as if the man, to use Jack Tanerton's expression, had 
a touch of the tar-brush ; and the dark sullen eyes would gleam 
with a peculiar light, that did not remind one of an angel. 

'' We saw Henry the Eighth and his six wives," went on Vera. 
*' Jane Seymour looked the nicest." 

" How daix you talk gibberish, at a moment like this? " raved Sir 
Dace. " As to that man, I have cursed him. And you will learn to 
thank me for it." 

Verena turned whiter than a sheet. Her answering words seemed 
brave enough, but her voice shook as she spoke them. 

" Papa, you have no right to interfere with my destiny in life ; no, 
though you are the author of my being. I have promised to be the 
wife of my cousin Edward, and no earthly authority shall stay me. 
You may be able to control my movements now by dint of force, 
for you are stronger than I am ; but my turn will come." 
" Edward Pym — hang him ! — is bad to the back bone." 
" I will have him whether he is bad or good," was Verena's 
mental answer : but she did not say it aloud. 

" And I will lock you in your room from this hour, if you dare 
defy me," hissed Sir Dace. 

" I do not defy you, papa. It is your turn, I say; and you have 
strength and power on your side." 

"Take care you do not. It would be the worse for you." 
" Very well, papa," sighed Verena. " I cannot help myself now ; 
but in a twelvemonth's time I shall be my own mistress. We shall 
see then." 

Sir Dace looked upon the words as a sort of present concession. 
He concluded Miss Verena had capitulated and would not again go 
a-roving. So he did not go the length of locking her in her room. 

Verena was mild as milk the next day, and good as gold. She 
never stirred from the side of Coralie, but sat practising a new 
netting-stitch, her temper sweet, her face placid. The thought of 
stealing out again to meet Mr. Pym was apparently further off than 
Asia. 

I have said that I was in London at this time, staying with Miss 
Deveen. It was curious that I should be so during those dreadful 
events that were so soon to follow. Connected with the business 
that kept me and Mr. Brandon in town, was a short visit made us 
by the Squire. Not that the Squire need have come ; writing would 
have done ; but he was nothing loth to do so : and it was lovely 
weather. He stayed with Mr. Brandon at his hotel in Covent 
Garden ; and we thought he meant to make a week of it. The 
Squire was as fond of the sights and the shops as any child. 

I went down one morning to breakfast with them at the Tavis- 
tock, and there met Jack Tanerton. Later, we started to take a 
look at a famous cricket-match that was being played at Lord's. In 
crossing the Marylebone Road, we met Sir Dace Fontaine. 



Vereiia Fontaine's Rehe'lion. i\j 

His lodgings were close by, he said, and he would hive us go in. 
It was the day I have just told you of; when Verena sat, good as 
gold, by her sister's side, trying the new netting-stitch. 

The girls were in a sort of boudoir, half way up the stairs. The 
French would, I suppose, call it the entresol : a warm-looking 
room, with stained glass in the windows, and a rich-coloured carpet. 
Coralie and Vera were, as usual, dressed alike, in delicate summer- 
muslins. Vera — how pretty she looked! — had blue ribbon in her hair: 
her blue eyes laughed at seeing us, a pink flush set oif her dimples. 

*' When do you sail. Captain Tanerton ? " abruptly asked Sir 
Dace, suddenly interrupting the conversation. 

" On Thursday, all being well," answered Jack. 

" Do you take out the same mate ? — that Pym ? " 

"I believe so; yes, Sir Dace." 

We had to go away, or should not find standing-room on the cricket- 
ground. Sir Dace said he would accompany us, and called out to Ozias 
to bring his hat. Before the hat came, he thought better of it, and 
said he would not go ; those sights fatigued him. I did not know 
what had taken place until later, or I might have thought he stayed 
at home to guard Verena. He gave us a cordial invitation to dinner 
in the evening, we must all go, he said; and Mr. Brandon was the 
only one of us who declined. 

" I am very busy," said Jack, " but I will contrive to get free by 
seven this evening." 

"Very busy indeed, when you can spend the day at Lord's!" 
laughed Verena. 

" I am not going to Lord's," said Jack. Which was true. '' I have 
come up this way to see an invalid passenger who is going out in my 
ship." 

"Oh," quoth Vera, " I thought what a nice idle time you were 
having of it. Mind, Johnny Ludlow, that you take me in to dinner 
to-night. I have something to tell you." 

Close upon the dinner-hour named, seven, the Squire and I were 
again at Sir Dace Fontaine's. Tanerton's cab came dashing up at 
the same moment. Coralie was in the drawing-room alone, her white 
dress and herself resplendent in coral ornaments. Sir Dace came in, 
and the Squire began telling him about the cricket-match, saying he 
<i)ught to have been there. Presently Sir Dace rang the bell. 

" How is it that dinner's late ? " he asked sternly of Ozias — for 
Sir Dace liked to be served to the moment. 

" The dinner only wait for Miss Verena, sir," returned Ozias. 
" She no down yet." 

Sir Dace turned round sharply to look at the sofa behind him, 
where I sat with Coralie, talking in an undertone. He had not 
noticed, I suppose, but that both sisters were there. 

" Let Miss Verena be told thit we wait for her," he said, waving 
his hand to Ozias. 



Ii8 Verena Fontaines Rebellion. 

Back came Ozlas in a minute or two. " Miss Verena, she no up- 
stairs, sir. She no anywhere." 

Of all the frowns that ever made a face ugly, the worst sat on Sir 
Dace Fontaine's, as he turned to Coralie. 
'* Have you let her go out ? " he asked. 

" Why of course she is not out, papa," answered Coralie, calm and 
smiling as usual. 

'' Let Esther go into Miss Verena's room, Ozias, and ask her to 
come down at once." 

" Esther go this last time. Miss Coralie. She come down and say, 
Ozias, Miss Verena no upstairs at all; she go out." 

" How dare " began Sir Dace; but Coralie interrupted him. 

" Papa, I will go and see. I am sure Verena cannot be out ; I am 
sure she is 7iot. She went into her room to dress when I went into 
mine. She came to me while she was dressing asking me to lend her 
my pearl comb; she had just broken one of the teeth of her own. 
She meant to come down to dinner then and was dressing for it : she 
had no thought of going out." 

Coralie halted at the door to say all this, and then ran up the ' 
stairs. She came down crest-fallen. Verena had stolen a march on 
them. In Sir Dace Fontaine's passionate anger, he explained the 
whole to us, taking but a itw short sentences to do it. Verena had 
been beguiled into a marriage engagement with Edward Pym : he, 
Sir Dace, had forbidden her to go out of the house to meet him ; 
and, as it appeared, she had set his authority at defiance. They 
were no doubt tramping off now to some place of amusement ; a 
theatre, perhaps : the past evening they had gone to Madame Tus- 
saud's. " Will you take in Miss Fontaine, Squire," concluded Sir 
Dace, with never a break between that and the explanation. 

How dark and sullen he looked, I can recal even now. Deprived 
of my promised partner, Verena, I went down alone. Sir Dace 
following with Jack, into whose arm he put his own. 

" I wish you joy of your chief officer, Captain Tanerton ! " cried 
he, a sardonic smile on his lips. 

It must have been, I suppose, about nine o'clock. We were all 
back in the drawing-room, and Coralie had been singing. But some- 
how the song fell flat ; the contretemps about Verena, or perhaps the 
sullenness it had left on Sir Dace, produced a sense of general dis- 
comfort; and nobody asked for another. Coralie took her dainty 
work-box off a side-table, and sat down by me on the sofa. 

" I may as well take up my netting, as not," she said to me in an 
under tone. *' Verena began a new collar to-day — which she will be 
six months finishing, if she ever finishes it at all. She dislikes the 
work; I love it." Netting was the work most in vogue at that time. 
Mrs. Todhetley had just netted herself a cap. 

" Do you think we shall see your sister to-night ? " I asked of Coralie 
in a whisper. 



. Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 119 

" Of course you will, if you don't run away too soon. She'll not 
come in later than ten o'clock." 

" Don't you fancy that it has put out Sir Dace very much? " 

Coralie nodded. '' It is something new for papa to attempt to 
control us ; and he does not like to find he can^t. In this affair I 
take his part ; not Verena's. Edward Pym is not a suitable match for 
her in any way. For myself, I dislike him." 

" I don't much like him, either \ and I am sure Captain Tanerton 
does not. Your sister is in love with him, and can see no fault. 
Cupid's eyes are blind, you know." 

" I don't know it at all," she laughed. " My turn with Cupid has 
not yet come, Johnny Ludlow. I do not much think Cupid could 
blind me. though he may be blind himself. If — why, what's this ? " 

Slowly lifting the lid of the box, which had been resting on her 
lap unopened, she saw a sealed note there, lying uppermost, above the 
netting paraphernalia. It was addressed to herself, in Verena's hand- 
writing. Coralie opened it with her usual deliberation. 

" Dear Coralie, — As I find you and papa intend to keep me a 
prisoner, and as I do not choose to be kept a prisoner, and do not 
think you have any right to exercise this harsh control over me, I am 
leaving home for a few days. Tell papa that I shall be perfectly safe 
and well taken care of, even if I could not take care of myself — 
which I can^ as you must know. Ever yours, Vera." 

Coralie laughed just a little. It seemed as if nothing ever put her 
out : she did know that Verena could, as the note phrased it, take 
care of herself. She went up to her father, who was standing by the 
fire talking with the Squire and Tanerton. Sir Dace, fresh from a 
hot country, was always chilly, as I have said before, and kept up a 
big fire whether it was warm or cold. 

" Papa, here is a note from Verena. I have just found it in my 
work-box. Would you like to see what she says ? " 

Sir Dace put his coffee-cup on the mantel-piece, and took the note 
from Coralie. I never saw any expression like that of his face as he 
read. I never saw any face go so darkly white. Evidently he did 
not take the news in the same light way that Coralie did. 

A cry broke from him. Staggering back against the shelf, he up- 
set a vase that stood at the corner. A beautiful vase of Worcester 
china, with a ground of delicate gilt tracery, and a deliciously-painted 
landscape standing out from it. It was not at the vase, lying in pieces 
on the fender, we looked, but at Sir Dace. His face was contorted ; 
his eyes were rolling. Tanerton, ever ready, cawght his arm. 

" Help me to find her, my friends ! " he gasped, when the threatened 
fit had passed. '^' Help me this night to find my daughter ! As sure 
as we are living, that base man will marry her to-morrow, if we do 
not, and then it will be too late." 

" Goodness bless me, yes ! " cried the Squire, brushing his hair the 



120 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

wrong way, his good old red face all excitement. " Let us start at 
once ! Johnny, you come with me. Where can we go first ? " 

That was the question for them all — where to go ? London was 
a large place ; and to set out to look for a young lady in it, not 
knowing where to look, was as bad as looking for the needle in the 
bottle of hay. 

" She may be at that villain's place," panted Sir Dace, whose 
breath seemed to be all wrong. " Where does he live ? You 
know, I suppose," appealing to Jack. 

" No, I don't," said Jack. *' But I can find out. I daresay it is 
in Ship Street. Most of " 

"Where is Ship Street?" interrupted the Squire, looking more 
helpless than a lunatic. 

'* Ship Street, Tower Hill," explained Jack ; and I daresay the 
Squire was as wise as before. " Quite a colony of officers live there, 
while their vessels are lying in St. Katherine's Docks. Ship Street lies 
handy, you see ; they have to be on board by six in the morning." 

" I knew a young fellow who lodged all the way down at Poplar, 
because it was near to his ship," contended the Squire. 

" No doubt. His ship must have been berthed in the East India 
Docks ; they are much further off. I will go away at once, then. 
But," added Jack, arresting his steps, and turning to Sir Dace, " don't 
you think it may be as well to question the household ? Your 
daughter may have left some indication of her movements." 

Jack's thought was not a bad one. Coralie rang the bell for their 
own maid, Esther, a dull, silent kind of young woman. But Esther 
knew nothing. She had not helped Miss Verena to dress that even- 
ing, only Miss Coralie. Miss Verena said she did not want her. 
She believed Maria saw her go out. 

Maria, the housemaid, was called : a smart young woman, with 
curled hair and a pink bow in her cap. Her tale was this. While the 
young ladies were dressing for dinner, she entered the drawing-room 
to attend to the fire, and found it very low. She went on her knees 
to coax it up, when Miss Verena came in in her white petticoat, a little 
shawl on her neck. She walked straight up to Miss Fontaine's work- 
box, opened it and shut it, and then went out of the room again." 

** Did she speak to you ? " asked John Tanerton. 

" Yes, sir. Leastways she made just a remark — ' What, that fire 
out again ? ' she said. "That was all, sir." 

" Go on," sharply cried Sir Dace. 

** About ten minutes later, I was at the front door, letting out the 
water-rate — who is sure to call, as my missis told him, at the most ill- 
convenient time — when Miss Verena came softly down the stairs with 
her bonnet and mantle on. I felt surprised. * Don't shut me in, 
Maria, when I want to go out,' she said to me in a laughing sort of 
way, and I pulled the door back and bejyged her pardon. That was 
all, sir." 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 121 

*' How was she dressed ? " asked Coralie. 

" I couldn't say," answered the girl ; " except that her clothes were 
dark. Her black veil was down over her face ; I noticed that ; and she 
had a little carpet-bag in her hand." 

So there we were, no wiser than before. Verena had taken flight, 
and it was impossible to say whither. 

They were for running all over the world. The Squire would have 
started forthwith, and taken the top of the Monument to begin 
with. John Tanerton, departing on his search to find Pym's lodg- 
ings, found we all meant to attend him, including Ozias. 

" Better let me go alone," said Jack. " I am Pym's master at 
sea, and can perhaps exercise some little authority on shore. Johnny 
Ludlow can go with me." 

"And you, papa, and Mr. Todhetley might pay a visit to Madame 
Tussaud's," put in Coralie, who had not lost her equanimity the least 
in the world, seeming to look upon the escapade as more of a joke 
than otherwise. " They will very probably be found at Madame 
Tussaud's : it is a safe place of resort when people want to talk secrets 
and be under shelter." 

There might be reason in what Coralie said. Certainly there was 
no need for a procession of five people and two cabs to invade the 
regions of Tower Hill. So Jack, buttoning his light over-coat over 
his dinner toggery, got into a hansom with me, and the two old 
gentlemen went off to see the kings and queens. 

" Drive like the wind," said Jack to the cabman. "No. 23, Ship 
Street, Tower Hill." 

" I thought you did not know his number," I said, as we went 
skimming over the stones. 

" I do not know Pym's : am not sure that he puts up in Ship 
Street. My second mate, Mark Ferrar, lives at No. 23, and I dare- 
say he can direct me to Pym's." 

Mark Ferrar ! The name struck on my memory. " Does Ferrar 
come from Worcester, do you know, Jack? Is he related to the 
Battleys of Crabb ? " 

" It is the same," said Jack. " I have heard his history. One of 
his especial favourites is Mr. Johnny Ludlow." 

" How strange ! — strange that he should be in your ship ! Does 
he do well ? Is he a good sailor ? " 

" First-rate. Ferrar is really a superior young man, steady and 
painstaking, and has got on wonderfully. As soon as he qualifies for 
master, which will be in another year or two, he will be placed in com- 
mand, unless I am mistaken. Our owners see what he is, and push 
him forward. They drafted him into my ship two years ago." 

How curious it was ! Mark Ferrar, the humble charity-boy, the 
frog^ who had won the heart of poor King Sanker, rising thus quickly 
towards the top of the tree ! I had always liked Mark : had seen 
how trustworthy he was. 



122 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion, 

Our cab might fly like the wind ; but Tower Hill seemed a long 
v/ay off in spite of it. Dashing into Ship Street at last, I looked about 
me, and saw a narrow street with narrow houses on either side, 
narrow doors that somehow did not look upright, and shutters closed 
before the downstairs windows. 

No. 23. Jack got out, and knocked at the door. A young boy 
opened it, saying he believed Mr. Ferrar was in his parlour. 

You had to dive down a step to get into the passage. I followed 
Jack in. The parlour door was on the right, and the boy pushed it 
open. A smart, well-dressed sailor sat at the table, his head bent 
over books and papers, apparently doing exercises by candle-light. 

It was Mark Ferrar. His honest, homely face, with the wide 
mouth and plain features looked much the same ; but the face was 
softened into — I had almost said — that of a gentleman. Mark 
finished the sentence he was writing, looked up, and saw his captain. 

" Oh, sir, is it you? " he said, rising. " I beg your pardon." 

*' Busy at your books, I see, Mr. Ferrar?" 

Mark smiled — the great, broad, genuine smile I so well remem- 
bered. " I had to put them by for other books, while I was studying 
to pass for chief, sir. That done, I can get to them again with an 
easy conscience." 

" To be sure. Can you tell me where Mr. Pym lodges ? " 

" Close by : a few doors lower down. But I can show you the 
house, sir." 

"Have you forgotten me, Mark?" I asked, as he took up his cap 
to come with us. 

An instant's uncertain gaze ; the candle was behind him, and my 
face in the shade. His own face lighted up with a glad light. 

"No, sir, that indeed I have not. I can never forget Mr. Johnny 
Ludlow. But you are about the last person, sir, I should have 
expected to see here." 

In the moment's impulse, he had put out his hand to me ; then, 
remembering, I suppose, what his position was in the old days, drew 
it back quickly. " I beg your pardon, sir," he said, with the same 
honest flush that used to be for ever making a scarlet poppy of his 
face. But I was glad to shake hands with Mark Ferrar. 

*' How are all your people at Worcester, Mark ? " I asked, as we 
went down the street. 

" Quite well, thank you, sir. My old father is hearty yet, and my 
brother and sister are both married. I went down to see them last 
week, and stayed a day or two," 

The greatest change in Ferrar lay in his diction. He spoke as we 
spoke. Associating now with men of education, he had taken care 
to catch up their tone and accent ; and he was ever, afloat or ashore, 
striving to improve himself. 

Ferrar opened Pym's door without knocking, dived down the step, 
for the houses were precisely similar, and entered the parlour. He 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion, 123 

and Pym occupied the same apartments in each house : the parlour 
and the little bed-room behind it. 

The parlour was in darkness, save for what light came into it from 
the street gas lamp, for these shutters were not closed. Ferrar went 
into the passage and shouted out for the landlady, Mrs. Richenough, 
I thought it an odd name. 

She came in from the kitchen at the end of the passage, carrying 
a candle. A neat little woman with grey hair and a puckered face ; 
the sleeves of her brown gown were rolled up to the elbows, and 
she wore a check apron. 

"Mr. Pym, sir?" she said, in answer to Ferrar. "He dressed his- 
self and went out when he'd swallowed down his tea. He always do 
go out, sir, the minute he's swallowed it." 

" Do you expect him back to-night? " questioned Jack. 
"Why yes, sir, I suppose so," she answered. "He mostly comes 
in about eleven." 

" Has any young lady been here this evening, ma'am ? " blandly 
continued Jack. " With Mr. Pym ? — or to enquire for him ? " 

Mrs. Richenough resented the question. " A young lady ! " she 
repeated, raising her voice. " Well, I'm sure ! what next ? " 

" Take care : it is our Captain who speaks to you," whispered 
Ferrar in her ear ; and the old woman dropped a curtsey to Jack. 
Captains are captains with the old landladies in Ship Street. 
" Mr. Pym's sister — or cousin," amended Jack. 
" And it's humbly asking pardon of you, sir. I'm sure I took it 
to mean one of them fly-away girls that would like to be running 
after our young officers continual. No, sir; no young lady has 
been here for Mr. Pym, or with him." 

" We can wait a little while to see whether he comes in, I presume, 
ma'am," said Jack. 

Intimating that Mr. Pym's Captain was welcome to wait the whole 
night if he pleased, Mrs. Richenough lighted the lamp that stood on 
the table, shut the shutters, and made Jack another curtsey as she 
withdrew. 

" Do you wish me to remain, sir ? " asked Mark. 
" Not at all," was the Captain's answer. " There will be a good 
deal to do to-morrow, Mr. Ferrar : mind you are not late in getting 
on board." 

" No fear, sir," replied Ferrar. 

And he left us waiting. Johnny Ludlow. 



---»<r^>iti?^«5t<S&_<ei*^""- 



124 



ABOUT NORWAY. 

By Charles W. Wood. 




G 



OING through Nor- 



spect, very different from 
travelling in more fre- 
quented countries, where, 
in most cases, if you wish 
to reach a certain spot or 
place, there is no doubt 
as to the route to be fol- 
lowed. Indecision — that 
most uncomfortable state 
of mind, whether in the 
choice of a wife or a 
waistcoat — cannot arise. 
There, on the map, is the 
direct road or rail lead- 
ing to your destination, 
and it must be taken. 

It is not so in Norway. 
Often it seemed that 
twenty different roads 
would conduct you to a 
desired goal, and at 
length after twenty con- 
flicting opinions, you were 
in danger of falling into a state of mind such as that described by 
an old friend some years ago. " I never," she observed on that 
occasion, " have to decide which of two roads I shall take, or in 
which of two investments I shall put my superfluous dividends, but I 
feel as if I should lose my senses." Dear Miss Sophia ! She has 
not lost them yet, but this doubtful state makes her somewhat of a 
" trial " to her friends, who, however, would not have otherwise that 
embodiment of all that is excellent in woman. 

Anxious to make the most of our time, and to see as much as 
could be seen between Christiania and Bergen, one of our first duties 
on arriving at the capital was to call on Mr. Bennett, without whom, 
in Norway, the English would be lost. It became sometimes almost 
ludicrous to hear during the course of one day in our travels in hoA^ 
many different ways people made use of Mr. Bennett. Exclamations 
buch as the following were almost as numerous as the travellers : — 



Church of the Twelfth Century. 



About Norway. 



125 



" I am anxious to get to Trondhjem, whither Bennett is forward- 
ing my letters." 

*' I must knock about the Romsdal until Bennett sends me more 
money." 

** I have lost a macintosh, and if you find it, kindly forward it to 
Mr. Bennett." 

** That seems a charming route, certainly, but Bennett has marked it 
out so and so, and if I varied it, I might possibly land in perdition." 

" I should have been utterly lost at such and such a station but 
for Bennett's phrase-book." 

" I have written to Bennett, and 
shall abide by his instructions." 

" Bennett says so and so, and Ben- 
nett must be right." 

The last exclamation would occur 
at the end of an argument, when the 
speaker, driven into a corner, could 
only come out of it with anything like 
dignity by delivering the words in an 
irritable tone, and, metaphorically 
speaking, sitting upon you and shutting 
you up. 

To take railways to Norway would 
not be like taking coals to Newcastle, 
but the difficulties of travelling are not 
limited to the absence of railways. 
The choice of routes already alluded 
to, makes it difficult for the uninitiated 
to know which to adopt. Each person 
has his own advice to offer upon the 
subject, and each person's advice 
varies in essential particulars. In no 
country so near our own shores does 
a like confusion of ideas prevail on 

the subject of travelling. Even amongst the passengers on board 
the Cameoy crossing from England, this Babel — not of tongues 
but of opinions — asserted itself and became rampant : and it may 
safely be asserted that we landed at Christiania perplexed and be- 
wildered as to the best thing to be done. Had everyone's advice 
been taken it would have ended in our doing nothing : for one told 
us to go North, another South, a third East, and a fourth West : 
whilst a fifth described a circle, and obligingly put down the details 
upon paper. 

I remember telling one person, in answer to his enquiry,^that^ we 
were going up to the North Cape. *' That," he replied, " is a mis- 
take; it is loss of time and very tedious. You will find nothing 
worth seeing beyond Trondhjem." 




Norwegian Bride. 



12 5 A boiLt Norway, 

This was not very encouraging. We had yet to discover that all 
such remarks must be taken for what they are worth : according to 
the knowledge of the speaker ; and especially as regards his power 
and capacity for appreciating the scenes he has visited. A stress 
might well be laid upon these words, for experience proves more and 
more that only a certain number of those who travel really take in 
and appreciate the beauties of nature, and consequently possess 
opinions worthy of credit and attention. 

Within an hour of being told that to go beyond Trondhjem was 
little less than folly, we were again called upon to give a second 
questioner the same interesting information as to our plans. 

" A charming trip that to the North Cape," he returned. " But 
everything worth seeing comes after Trondhjem. This side the old 
town, the journey is dull and tedious." 

Here, in the course of an hour were diametrically opposed opinions 
from two men, each professing perfect knowledge of the subject. And 
this experience followed us throughout Norway wherever advice was 
sought : a contradiction of opinions so bewildering, that at last we gave 
up making enquiries, judged for ourselves, and were satisfied with the 
results. There are, of course, many whose advice may be trusted, 
but it is difficult to find them out by intuition. 

As to the guide books — Murray, though good in many partic- 
ulars, was somewhat bewildering: Baedeker was not then published: 
whilst Bennett's Guide, though excellent as far as it goes, is limited. 
Nevertheless it is of great use, and no one going through Norway 
should be without it. 

Thus, on our first arrival at Christiania we should have been lost 
but for calling upon Mr. Bennett for information. This he gave at 
once, to us as to everyone, in the readiest and most obliging manner. 
We had a week in which to reach Bergen, and wished to see as much 
as possible of the best part of the country lying between that port and 
Christiania ; including the Morkefos or Vettisfos, a chief waterfall of 
Norway, of which we had heard wonderful accounts. 

Mr. Bennett jotted down a route, giving to each day its appointed 
work, each night its place of rest. This was followed out with great 
success. Neither at the hotel nor elsewhere, could any reliable in- 
formation be obtained. Even those who inspected our plan shook 
their heads and said they knew nothing about the matter. 

In the slowness of their trains the Norwegians excel the Dutch ; 
and yet the latter, for this merit or defect, according to the time, 
nerves, and fancy of the individual traveller, may place themselves at 
the head of other European countries. But here all comparison ends, 
for whilst the Dutch possess but a small territory sufficiently intersected 
by lines, Norway with its great tract of country has scarcely any rail- 
ways at all. Nor is it probable that she will ever be much better off 
in this respect. The land is so thinly populated that railroads could 
never pay. From the billy nature of the country their construction 



A hoiU Norway. 1 27 

would cost much, whilst the people are poor. And lastly, the present 
mode of travelling is all they n'eed. Time is of less consequence to 
the Norwegians than to other people, because they have less to do. 
They do not rush through life, as we do, for instance, giving to one day 
the work of six. They breathe; the remainder of the civilised world is 
for the most part breathless. If they have a hundred miles to travel, 
they can as well devote a week to it as half a dozen hours: or if they 
cannot, they wisely stay at home. So that, travelling in Norway is 
very much what it was in England a century ago. A little slower and 
more leisurely, perhaps, now than then ; for nowhere in Norway will 
you come across the fine sight of a coach and four tearing up hill and 
down dale at express speed. The average rate of progress is about 
four miles an hour ; and, do what you will, taking one thing with an- 
other, you cannot get much beyond this. Their railways by com- 
parison are not much better : of stately speed, perhaps, but irritating. 

Our experience of railway travelling was limited to six hours. In 
that time we traversed about seventy miles of country. The train 
started at the early hour of six, and after a hard day's sight-seeing in 
Christiania, and late going to rest, we had, very unwillingly, to be 
stirring the next morning at five o'clock. A hasty breakfast, and the 
porter with our luggage upon a truck, piloted us to the station. The 
streets looked melancholy and deserted : the houses were not open 
for the day ; the shops even in this early town, had not yet taken 
down their shutters. 

The train was soon in motion, the sleeping town left behind. We 
passed slowly beyond the suburbs of Christiania, with their white, 
picturesque country-houses dotting the sloping hills ; reposing amidst 
trees, flowers, and a certain luxuriance of cultivated vegetation, 
that is a rare feature in Norway. There is an air of wealth and 
fashion, too, about many of these houses, also peculiar to the 
neighbourhood, and which is lost as we progress onwards. They 
are the cool retreats to which the richer people of the capital escape 
for the hot, summer months of the year. 

The journey was slow and pleasant, and the scenery beautiful. 
If the slowness of the train possessed no other advantage, it allowed 
every point to be observed almost as well as in a journey by coach. 
To the left as we steamed away from the capital was the beautiful 
Christiania Fjord, its waters blue and tranquil ; to the right, a range 
of hills bounded the horizon, a misty purple bloom upon them, which 
the early morning sun was gradually lifting, as if it were a thing too 
refinedly beautiful and delicate for the broader, bolder hours of the 
day to gaze upon. We passed factories awaking to their day's 
work ; streams of water ran beside us, now smooth, now rushing 
wildly over a shallow rocky bed ; skirting plantations of sombre fii;s 
with mysterious depths impenetrable to the eye. 

Towards Drammen the scenery became more striking. We shot 
into a tunnel splendidly cut out of the soHd granite rock, and out 



128 



A boiU Norway. 



again upon a far stretching view. On the right the Drammen Fjord 
opened up its lake-like waters, the town itself reposing amidst hills 
lofty and undulating, and clothed in pine forests. To the left the 




rich valley of the Lier expanded, dotted with hamlets ; other tunnels 
were passed, and the train, skirting the very edge of a precipice, 
stopped at Drammen. This is one of the few important towns in 
Norway, and is given up to the timber and metal trade. 

Here we waited many minutes, and the hasty breakfast at 



A bout Norway. 



129 



Chrlstlania was supplemented by a second. The refreshment-room 
displayed dishes of meat cut in thin slices, and we rashly seized 
upon one that looked tempting. What it was will never be known, how 
it tasted can never be forgotten. Sentimental visions of poison and 
a tomb in a foreign land took hold of the imagination. But the 
presiding genius, a true daughter of Anak, who looked fierce enough 
to be the giant's wife in the fairy tale, brought up a famous cup of 




HONEFOS. 



tea, backed by excellent bread and butter. Here at least was home- 
like fare, in which lurked no poisoned arrow. We could hold no 
converse with her, for she spoke no language but her own, of which 
we understood not a word : but we used the freemasonry of signs ; 
and, as is often the case, a nearer acquaintance melted the fierce 
aspect into something very like gentleness of look and manner. To 
settle our money differences, I held out to her a handful of small 
coin (a large handful may comprise a very small sum) in order that 
she might take what was owing ; and by her moderate charge she 

VOL. XXIX. K 



1 30 A bout Norivay, 

proved that to take advantage of our ignorance was her very \zsX 
thought. This was not always our experience in Norway. 

Then every one returned to his carriage, and the drowsy train went 
on again. The scenery still continued beautiful and diversified. The 
river was frequently crossed, and we passed many waterfalls trickling 
down the hills like silver threads, whilst here and there cataracts 
leaped wildly into the river and helped to swell the torrent. 

Towards twelve o'clock we reached Honefos, and rumbled over 
the long bridge that opened up- to our wondering and delighted view 
a vast sheet of rushing, foaming water, one cataract above and 
beyond and beside another, emptying itself in boiling, tearing rage 
into the river, whilst down below, its fury spent, it glided along, 
rapidly indeed, but in comparative calm. It was a lovely spot. The 
hills, the quaint town, and the seething cataracts closed the view on 
the one side, whilst on the other the country opened cut in a rich, 
fertile plain, with quaint Norwegian farm-houses, the river winding 
along like a broad band of silver set with jewels composed of sun 
flashes, until, turning to the right, it passed, "in music " indeed, out 
of sight. Not the music of *' the spheres," whatever that may be ; 
but the more tangible, the more audible music of Nature, that, in 
one grand harmonious chant, surrounds the traveller on all sides 
amidst such scenes, and in an unceasing hymn of praise ascends to 
the regions of eternity, carrying with it the heart and soul of man. 

The train halted all too short a time for us to take in the wonderful 
beauties of the place, and feast our gaze upon the rushing water, the 
greatest mass of living foam I had ever seen, of which our illustra- 
tion gives but a faint idea and but a small section of the fall. We 
went on, and in a few moments reached Heen, a small station, and 
the end of our journey by rail. Here we were to take the steamer up 
the Spirillen lake to Sorum, our first night's resting-place. 

It was a primitive, picturesque country station. Close to us on 
one side were hills and crags covered with wild tangle in beautiful 
confusion, whilst pine trees grew above and reached the summit, 
casting just now no long shadows, for the noonday sun was above us. 
A few steps down the hill, a turn to the left, and we came to the 
little boat that was getting up her steam and preparing to start at one 
o'clock. A small group of people were assembled, none of them 
displaying the costumes of the country. All were strangely quiet. 
The Norwegians, without being phlegmatic — they are too generally 
cheerful and contented for that — are for the most part lacking in 
animation. Loudness of voice and gesture is not one of their 
characteristics, whilst its absence is a marked feature. Their enthu- 
siasm runs in still waters, and perhaps is therefore the deeper. 

On the bridge of the steamer sat an old lady and gentleman, 
who proved to be going a considerable portion of our way. It 
might be seen at once, from the likeness, that they were brother and 
sister. Refined, sensitive faces, pale, clear-cut features, and an 



About Norway. 131 

expression brimming over with kindliness and goodwill towards man- 
kind, distinguished them. 

As long as we were together — until the afternoon of the follow- 
ing day — this kindliness of disposition was abundantly manifested; 
in thoughtfulness, in small self-sacrifices in favour of the two 
strangers visiting their country. It was delightful and refreshing, a 
species of moral tonic, to encounter such people, who go through 
the world scattering a seed broadcast that must one day bear a rich 
harvest. 

The devotion of this brother and sister to each other was such 
as might be expected in lovers. Often it was impossible to avoid 
smiling at their demonstrations of mutual affection — carried perhaps 
to excess according to English views — yet delightful at their age 
from its very youthfulness. Here, at least, were two enthusiastic 
people, exceptions to their race. In this our first experience of 
travelling in Norway, they were of great service to us, pointing out 
their system of doing things, and making clear much that would long 
have remained misty and uncertain. 

Mr. B., as we will call him, spoke a little English and a little 
French, and Miss B. a little German ; by which means we managed 
to get along with some degree of understanding. Not another soul 
on board spoke anything but Norwegian. Befo-re starting we managed 
to make the captain comprehend that, if within the range of pos- 
sibility, we should like some dinner on board — we had thirty-five 
miles and a six hours' journey before us : and he, by signs that would 
have made the fortune of a clown in a pantomime, replied that 
they were quite equal to the occasion. 

The voyage up the lake was one of our pleasantest bits of 
Norwegian travelling. The banks on either side were varied and. 
picturesque. Here and there the slopes were cultivated, and 
evidently fertile. Houses were dotted about, and small settlements, 
many of them with slanting, overhanging roofs, like Swiss chalets;, 
others of light wooden construction painted some gay colour, 
like the houses of Christianssand. Every now and then the whistle 
sounded, the engines stopped, and a small boat shot out from the 
shore, to bring up a passenger or carry off some cargo. Once, we 
went alongside, and landed many bags of meal, and stayed there 
half an hour : an opportunity seized upon by the few passengers, 
to land and take a glass of beer with their friends. 

In the distance, mountains, gloomy and severe, rose abruptly, and 
we were soon upon them : the little steamer looking dwarfed and 
tiny as she hurried past their frowning, barren sides. Great masses 
of rock, stern and terrible, that were too much for kindly, gentle 
Miss B., who clasped her brother's arm as if for protection from their 
threatening looks. Here and there we passed over a small rapid, 
through which the little boat tossed as on a miniature sea : whilst 
not unfrequently we had to steer out of the way of huge rafters of 



132 About No rzvay. 

pine logs lashed together. One spot on the hill side had been worn 
smooth and bare as a road, and for a moment we wondered what 
had caused this bald place amongst the fir-clad hills : until, at the 
summit, dwarfed by distance, might be seen men hard at work ; and 
great pine logs, stripped of their bark, came rolling down the incline, 
splashed into the water, and shot out upon their downward journey. 

Presently a fresh, clean-looking maiden in a snow-white cap and 
apron came up, and smilingly informed us that dinner was served. 
Instinct more than reason interpreted her message. We followed her 
into the little cabin, and with a " Var so got " — literally " Be so good," 
the " If you please " of the Norwegians, and the phrase used by them 
on all possible occasions, whether telling you that your dinner is 
serv^ed, or your carriole waiting, or politely excusing an injury — she 
closed the door upon us, and left us to our repast. It consisted of 
tinned beef steaks, potatoes well boiled, and excellent beer, the 
usual beverage of the country. It is light and frothy, and served in 
bottles. If drunk as soon as opened it is very palatable, but it 
quickly becomes flat, stale, and unprofitable. We were glad enough 
to break our fast with fare so much better than we expected, and did 
justice to a meal for which the sum of two shillings and threepence 
was charged. 

The lake was about sixteen miles long ; at the end of which the 
•boat passed into the river Baegna, the only difference being that the 
■stream now narrowed and became more rapid. At certain times the 
river is not navigable, and then travellers have to land at Naes, and 
continue the journey by road. The scene as we steamed up the 
river was beautiful. To the left rose the huge and precipitous mass 
of rocky mountain that seemed to terrify Miss B., which really 
looked like some petrified monster of night-mare dimensions, about 
to take back its animation and annihilate us. Dark, gloomy, and 
frowning were its sides, a perpendicular wall rising high and wide out 
of the water. It was almost a relief to pass beyond into the regions 
of more smiling, fertile hills, giving shelter to farms and plantations 
of birch trees, some of which, uprooted by the waters in their rising, 
were nodding a farewell to life, and sinking into the stream. 

Thus we made way, until, about seven o'clock, we reached Sorum. 
Mr. Bennett's plan had marked out a stage further on by land ; but 
our kindly fellow-travellers were going to make Sorum their head- 
quarters for that night, and urged us to do likewise. A proposal we 
willingly, and wisely, adopted. 

Up the little landing pier, and a io.^ yards onwards, we came to the 
settlement of Sorum, our first sight and experience of a Norwegian 
''station." It is by the help of these "stations" that one gets 
through the country, and without them travelling would be out of the 
question. The stations, as a rule, take their names from the people 
to whom they belong, and who generally live in them. They are for 
the most part small farms, more or less cultivated and productive 



About Norway, 



133 



according to their individual resources, and the intelh'gence and in- 
dustry of their owners. Some yield grain, others food for cattle : 
sheep, cows, and horses ; and goats often in abundance. You may 
see the little creatures skipping about high up on the hill sides, from 
point to point and from rock to rock, with wonderful agility. To- 
wards evening, passing along the road, you may hear a boy or girl 
with a peculiar jodel cry, something like that of the Swiss peasant, 
but more weird and unfamiliar, collecting the goats or the cows with 
this simple call, that in the grand and solemn stillness which reigns in 
these great solitudes, goes floating far up the heights, and brings the 




On the Road to bORaM. 

scattered cattle together, who come leisurely down, one following 
another in a long, winding string that you may trace for a considerable 
distance. Then, when they are all landed and milked, some are 
put away for the night, and some are sent back to pass it upon the 
mountains. 

These "stations" are the farm-houses and their outbuildings, 
never originally intended for the uses to which they are now partly 
devoted. With the increase of travellers in Norway, the Government 
and the people have recognised the greater need of accommodation ; 
and the stations have gradually developed from the poorest and 
roughest quarters into something, not luxurious, and still humble and 
primitive, but clean and decent, and sometimes tolerably comfortable. 



134 ^ ^^otit Norway. 

It is all very different now from what it was in days gone by. A 
fellow-traveller told me that when going through Norway twenty years 
ago, he and a party of six ladies and as many gentlemen were all 
ushered into one bed-room at one of the principal stations — the 
only bed-room the house contained. This had to be given up to the 
ladies, and the gentlemen sat up in an adjoining room : much to the 
surprise of the unsophisticated Norwegians, who could not understand 
why people should make themselves so unnecessarily uncomfortable. 
It is not so now. Accommodation has greatly increased, even in 
the last five years : and to-day a traveller will rarely find himself at 
fault for a bed, though not always given a bed-room to his own share. 
Yet rooms, beds, and stations are still limited, and should travellers 
increase rapidly in Norway, it is not easy to see how the wants of 
the case will be supplied. 

The station at Sorum was one of the most primitive in Norway, 
and perhaps it was as well for our experiences not to begin with the 
best. On the other hand, it was one of the very cleanest, and the 
people were the most civil and attentive. For such a station the 
fare was excellent : and nowhere, as it afterwards proved, were we 
more comfortable than at Sorum. It is rather out of the beaten 
track of travellers, especially English travellers, and it has remained 
among the least changed. 

Most primitive it seemed to our first impressions, and in our ignor- 
ance I am not sure that we quite appreciated our blessings. The 
house set apart for travellers was on the left : opposite was the build- 
ing devoted to horses, and the open shed for vehicles : to the right 
the house where the people of the station, and any homely travellers 
that might pass that way, lived and slept : the whole settlement thus 
forming three sides of a quadrangle, all built of wood dark with age, 
and very picturesque. To the left, in a line with our building, was 
the storehouse, which stood upon four rough pedestals of stones, 
placed one upon another without mortar or cement, and was thus 
kept high and dry above the damp earth, the overflowing of the 
waters, the deep snows of winter. The interior was devoted to the 
storing of all articles of food and use that the damp might injure : 
provisions to carry them through a long winter's cold, and dull, dark 
days : their season of inaction and little work. 

We entered upon a good-sized room, the general sitting-room of 
the station, roughly, yet not uncomfortably, furnished. A bare floor, 
an ordinary round deal table, spread with a white cloth, a it'N com- 
mon chairs, a horse-hair sofa, and a sort of half cabinet, half chest of 
drawers, painted red, decorated with quaint, gaudy flowers, and bearing 
a date and the name of the hostess in a flourishing inscription. This 
is a very general piece of furniture in Norway, and seems to be a kind 
of certificate of marriage ; not very easy to carry about in the pocket, 
but, on the other hand, not like *' marriage lines," capable of being 
mislaid or overlooked. 



A bout Norway. 135 

The charm of the room lay in its windows, and the views they 
looked upon. Sloping hills and mountains, covered with rich 
plantations of trees that glinted in the sun, and now cast long 
shadows. On the further side, gloomy pine forests, relieved by the 
brighter green of the larch, here and there a barren mountain, all 
rock and granite, cold and stern. To the left flowed the river, up 
which we had just travelled, the little steamer moored to the landing- 
stage, at rest until six o'clock to-morrow morning, when it would 
start on its journey back to Heen. 

Our bed-room, immediately above the sitting-room, was large and 
airy. Four small wooden beds, one in each corner ; a rough wash- 
hand-stand under one window, a basin on a chair under another. 
Next to this, two smaller rooms, occupied by Mr. and Miss B. 

Our first visitor, after we had looked round, settled our small 
amount of luggage, and found everything surprisingly clean, was a 
goat with formidable horns, that came trotting up the wooden stairs, 
paid us a visit of inspection, and then went off in search of prey. 
Its fancy fastened upon a straw hat lying upon the table. This, 
with perfect indifference to the laws of meum and tuum, it appro- 
priated to itself, and, without quick rescue, would have demolished, 
perhaps devoured. Then up came the hostess after the truant, and 
a chase began in which the goat had the best of it ; until it darted 
downstairs again, followed by the woman, breathless and out of 
temper ; uttering words it was no doubt well neither we nor the goat 
could interpret. 

Then we too went down, and found supper ready ; and Miss B. 
quickly followed us into the room. Her manner of entering was 
regal. One step forward, then a courtly curtsey to one of us : 
another step, and a second curtsey to the other : a third step, and a 
curtsey that embraced both. As we were in duty bound to return 
the civility, a looker-on might have taken us for a small court, making 
a royal progress through the country. Next came Mr. B., as uncere- 
monious as his sister was stately, all fatherly kindness and anxiety 
for our welfare. Miss B. presided at the teapot, and, in her nervous 
anxiety to do the honours with credit to her nation, the dear, kind, 
gentle lady upset the lid into A.'s cup, which he held uplifted, and 
sent the hot fluid down his arm, of which it made more free than 
welcome. A. said afterwards, with the true spirit of gallantry, it was 
worth a small amount of pain to receive her showers of graceful 
curtseys and apologies, and to subdue her distress. But the slight 
mishap was soon remedied, and in nowise took from the happiness 
and harmony of the tea-table. 

The meal over, in the setting sun, we wandered for a short walk 
into the woods behind the house. The forest was casting mysterious 
depths, far into which we did not penetrate. Spread out before U3, 
through and around and amidst the trees, in wildest profusion and 
most exquisite beauty, grew the tender fronds of the soft green oak 



136. About Nor IV ay. 

fern ; so abundant that it was impossible to place the foot and not 
crush them. 

Nothing could be lovelier than the scene. The narrow path leading 
through this maze of verdure ; the setting sun casting its red glow 
through the trees, lighting up the sky, and the floating clouds, 
tingeing the opposite mountains, and warming the waters of the river 
glowing to our left. Here and there a small silvery waterfall might 
be traced, trickling down the mountain side. Amidst the ferns wild 
flowers grew in abundance, some of which are not to be found in 
England. 

i.ower sank the sun, each moment changing and deepening the 
tints and shadows upon the landscape : until, disappearing, as it 
seemed, with a sudden bound, he warned us to return. 

We found Mr. B. at the door, smoking a long pipe : with this 
lover of mankind, a very calumet of peace. We talked of many 
things English and Norwegian, until all the shadows melted into 
darkness and night ; and the station people disappeared one by one ; 
and the hush of repose, that solemn stillness that makes itself felt, 
fell upon all things : and we, too, sought a well-earned rest. 

Alas, the next morning was wet, and our ardour was considerably 
damped in consequence. Our programme would not admit of a 
day lost on the road, and yet to travel in a downpour of rain was 
neither profitable nor pleasant. But at ten o'clock the clouds 
seemed to break, and hope set in. Miss B., who had stepped over 
for a moment into the other house, came to the door and called me 
in to show me their system of churning in Norway, and also a dish 
of trout just taken out of the river. 

It was a gloomy room. The floor was dark and earthy ; in the 
chimney burned a fire of wood and peat. In the middle of the 
floor a maid was splashing away at a churn : just such a churn 
as I had seen in Shetland some time before, in the hands of a 
certain Kirstie : a long, narrow barrel, and a long churn-staff that 
the strong maiden was working up and down to a distinct mea- 
sure. It was hard labour, and as the drops went splashing about 
the room, we kept at a respectful distance. The trout, fresh and 
beautiful, were Miss B.'s especial admiration and delight, who ten- 
derly enquired whether we had them in England, what they were 
called, and whether they were duly appreciated. 

Just then Mr. B. came in with the welcome news that the sun 
was breaking through the clouds, the rain had ceased, and the day 
would yet be glorious. 

So it proved. Then, as one obstruction was removed, another 
sprang up. Only two carrioles were to be had, and one stolkjaer : 
the latter a machine consisting of a long flat piece of wood suspended 
upon two wheels, on which a seat is erected holding two people. 
They are rough and uncomfortable, whilst a well-built carriole, ori 
the contrary, is a very pleasant conveyance. These never hold 



A bout Norway. 



m 



more than one person. The seat Is small, and the springs are often 
merely a continuation of the shafts, which are so long that the 
horse seems a long way from the driver. In these carrio.es you 
have to be your own Jehu ; your luggage Is strapped on behind ; and 
the post-boy, who has to bring back horse and carriole from the next 
station, sits upon it. The harness is generally made of cord, and, 
if hard, answers every purpose ; but new cord cuts the hands, and 
is disagreeable to hold. 

Mr. B., with his usual good-nature, Insisted upon our taking the 
carrioles ; he and his sister the stolkjaer. We did not then know 
the sacrifice he was making; but all the wisdom in the world would 
have made no difference : in a choice between better and worse, 
nothing would have induced him to choose the better. Such cha- 
racters are rare as they are beautiful. 




Travelling Bk' CAkKioLE, Norway. 

Behold us, then, at eleven o'clock, en route. Mr. and Miss B. 
taking the lead, A. following, and I bringing up the rear : an un- 
usual, lively, and decidedly high-spirited cavalcade. It is, in- 
deed, difficult, for any one but a confirmed hypochondriac to be any- 
thing but high-spirited in Norway, with its freedom from restraint, 
its Bohemian sort of life, its light, bracing air. A crack of the 
whips — as primitive as the harness : a farewell to the worthy folk 
of Sorum, who turned out in a body to see us start, and away 
went the fresh, jolly, strong little horses : Miss B.'s head enveloped 
in a hood, which the wind inflated to dimensions so extraordinary 
and grotesque that A.'s horse once or twice came to a dead stand, 
opened his eyes, pricked up his ears, and gazed in a paroxysm of 
astonishment and admiration : from which he could only be aroused 
to a sense of his duties by the enforcement of severe measures. 



138 



THE GREY COTTAGE. 
By Mrs. Claxtox. 

THE cottage was old and grey. A pear tree ran over the front of 
it; there was a wooden porch covered with jessamine and honey- 
suckle, which promised to be very sweet and delightful in the spring. 
It stood in a pretty garden, sloping down to a thick hedge ; beyond 
this, and much below it, ran the lane leading up into the village. 
A large walnut tree and some tall fir trees shaded the cottage to the 
south ; while the hill, on the side of which it was built, protected it 
from the north winds : they blew keenly enough at times. An 
orchard divided us from our neighbours at the back ; from the front 
we looked over the thatched roofs of a few low dwellings to the 
wide valley beyond, where a lazy river wound in and out through 
clumps of pollards. A picturesque mill and loch lay to the left ; 
to the right a graceful spire rose in the distance. 

Such was my new home. It was chosen partly for its retirement 
and its pretty garden, chiefly on account of its low rental and the 
inexpensive neighbourhood. The nearest town was three miles off; 
more than that when the floods were out, as was often the case, for 
then the short cut across the fields was impassable. 

This Grey Cottage — called so, possibly, from the old greystone 
of which it was built — had belonged to an aged man of the name of 
Vallyer. He had purchased it some fifty years before. By nature, 
as we heard, he had been close and miserly, saving up by little and 
little until he was reputed to be very rich. His wife he lost shortly 
after their marriage ; and since that time he had led a most solitary 
life, the only other inmate of the cottage being an aged housekeeper, 
very deaf, and as eccentric as himself. Occasionally a married sister 
would come over to spend a few hours with him, but never stayed 
over the night. These visits were like angels' in being few and far 
between ; but in another respect very unlike angels', for they never 
took place without a quarrel, and a declaration on the part of the 
sister, Mrs. Bittern, that she would never enter the house again. 
People said her only reason for making these quarrels up, was the 
old man's money. Be that as it might, virtue proved to be its own 
reward, for when he died it was found he had left her nothing. 

The old gentleman was wonderfully fond of his garden, working in 
it the greater part of the day, and seldom going beyond it. It was 
strange that with all his love for his flowers, he should never have 
cared to show them to his neighbours. On the contrary, he did 
what he could to keep them from their sight. During his life the 
place was unknown land; and, consequently, the subject of much 



The Grey Cottage, 139 

curiosity, especially to the village children. Mr. Vallyer always seemed 
to be on the look-out if they attempted to peer and pry through the 
hedge or over the gate, and he carried a thick stick, with which he 
would make sudden lunges and thrusts, scattering the young visitors 
ignominiously. It was not safe for juvenile eyes to gaze into Mr. 
Vallyer's property. Another peculiarity he had. It was to stand by 
the garden gate in the gloaming leaning on his stick, and watching 
the few people who went up and down the lonely lane. No matter 
what the night was, under the bright frosty stars of winter, or in the 
mist following a heated day of summer, there would stand old 
Michael Vallyer. 

It has been said that he was supposed to have saved money. 
None — save a few pounds — could be found after his death. It then 
became known that he had purchased a life annuity, which had died 
with him. The cottage and furniture were left to a nephew, a 
chemist in London. Not requiring to live in it himself, he advertised 
it to be let furnished. Two maiden ladies had taken it first by the 
month ; but they had quickly given notice to leave, complaining of 
damp and other disagreeables. They had, however, always been con- 
sidered rather crotchety people. I, with my two pretty nieces, Hilda 
and Cecily, took possession at Michaelmas, a io.'N weeks after they left. 
We were pleased with our country home. The few neighbours were 
friendly and sociable. I began to look upon the little Grey Cottage 
as a haven of rest after a changeful and troubled life. 

As our old servant, Martha, was not quite as active as she used to 
be, I enquired for a char-woman, to come in twice a week to assist 
her, and was recommended to a Mrs. Briggs. She did not do her 
work amiss, but her propensity to gossip was irrepressible. 

*' You should see the place in the spring, ma'am, when the gilly- 
flowers and stocks is out,'' she said to me one day, when I was in 
the kitchen making a tart, and she stood at the other end of it 
cleaning brasses and tins. " It looked beautiful when the Miss Jes- 
sops first came here." 

" I wonder what made them leave so soon ? " I remarked. 
" Damp, the agent told me : but I have discovered no damp about 
the cottage." 

" It weren't the damp, ma'am," was Mrs. Briggs's answer, and I 
thought her tone significant. " At first they liked it — oh, so much : 
but in a little time they said they must leave. Doubtless," lowering 
her voice, " the ladies had their reasons." 

'' Perhaps they found it too lonely ? " 

** No, and it weren't exactly the loneliness," returned Mrs. Briggs. 
" Not that altogether, ma'am." 

I asked no more ; for gossip, though Mrs. Briggs's chief failing, is 
not one of mine ; but went on with my pastry-making. She, rubbing 
fiercely at the copper tea-kettle, began again after an interlude. 

'* Did you chance to hear nothing about this cottage, ma'am ? " 



140 The Grey Cottage, 

*' Nothing particular. Why ? What is there to hear ? " 

" Perhaps I ought not to tell it you, ma'am ; you might be 
scared," returned she, as she looked at me over the kettle. 

" Scared ! Not I. Pray tell what you have to tell — if it concerns 
the cottage." 

** Well, ma'am, it's a healthy place and a pretty place ; that's for 
sure. But — it's about the old gentleman." 

'' The old gentleman ! " 

" Old Mr. Vallyer. They say he is in the house." 

''Why, what do you mean?" I asked, feeling somewhat as the 
woman had said — scared. 

" It's said, ma'am, that he never went out of it, though his funeral 
did ; that he stopped in to haunt it. Folks talk of something that 
happened here years and years ago ; some friend of Mr. Vallyer's 
came from over the seas to visit him. They used to quarrel, and 
one night the stranger was found dead in the garden. Some 
thought the death didn't come about by accident ; that Vallyer 
knew more than he said. Anyway, it's pretty sure he can't rest 
now, but is about the place troubling it." 

I am not especially superstitious, but I confess I did not like the 
tale. Mrs. Briggs continued. Her tongue, once oiled, would have 
gone on for ever. 

" The first to see him was the Widow Munn's children ; he had 
been dead about a month. I was at her place, helping her with a 
day's washing. * Mother,' said they, running in at dusk, ' we have 
seen the old gentleman at the Grey Cottage ; he's leaning over the 
gate with his stick just as he used to be.' They weren't frightened, 
those young children ; they told it as a bit of news. The Widow 
Munn looked at me, and I at her, and then she whipped 'em all round, 
thinking it might be the best way to put it out of their heads." 

I laughed ; and said the children might have been mistaken. 

"So they might, ma'am," assented Mrs. Briggs. "The next 
to see it was a stranger : a young man coming through the village 
one moonlight night on his way to London ; he was walking it. 
He went into the public-house, down there in Greenford, and called 
for a glass of ale. While he was sitting by the fire drinking it, he 
began to talk. ' What uncivil people you seem to have in these 
parts,' says he. ' I asked an old gentleman, standing at his garden- 
gate half way up the hill, whether there was a public-house near, 
and he would not answer me; he just stared straight in my face 
with his glassy-looking eyes, and never spoke.' The company in 
the tap-room stopped talking at this, and looked at one another. 
*What sort of an old gentleman was it,' they asked; 'how was he 
dressed ? ' 

" ' He wore a long grey coat, with a curious little cape to it,' says 
the traveller, ' and a spotted white kerchief, tied loose round his neck, 
with the ends hanging, and he had a stick in his hand. Very civil, 



The Grey Cottage. 141 

I must say he was ! I asked him the question again in a louder 
tone, thinking he might be deaf; but he never answered, only con- 
tinued to stare at me.' It was the dress of old Vallyer, ma'am ; he 
never wore any other, and I'll leave you to judge what the company 
at the White Hart thought of it. A deal of talk went about Green- 
ford next day." 

*' Where is the old maid-servant ? " 

** She went away. They left her in the house to show it, but 
after a week or two she took the key to the agent, saying there was 
something she did not like about the place, and she shouldn't stop 
in it. Just before the Miss Jessops took it, that was." 

*' No wonder the Miss Jessops were frightened away from the 
cottage if such tales were told to them," I remarked. " Why, you 
Greenford people must have driven them away ! " 

" Ah, well, I see, ma'am, you don't believe in it. It was said the 
ladies saw him in the house as well as out of it, though I can't speak 
for certain as to what happened. They went away all quiet and 
composed like; they didn't want to be laughed at." 

We found that Mr. Vallyer's ghost was firmly believed in by the 
neighbourhood. Fortunately my nieces were sensible girls, and only 
laughed. The stories told were made a source of amusement to them, 
and their young friends. They treated the subject as a good joke ; 
sometimes intruding irreverently near the confines of that strange 
and mysterious world beyond whose veil we know so little, and 
which, it has always seemed to me, should be treated with respect, 
if not with awe. On one occasion I felt obliged to expostulate. 

" Why, Aunt Cameron," exclaimed Hilda, laughing, " I am almost 
sure you believe in the ghost ! " 

Cecily took the matter more seriously, and agreed with me that 
too much fun had been made. After that, it was a favourite joke 
of Hilda's to tell her friends confidentially that her Aunt and Cecily 
believed in old Vallyer's reappearance. 

Weeks passed away, during which we saw nothing, and the winter 
set in. A young nephew of mine, and cousin of my nieces, came to 
spend some days with us ; chiefly, I believe, on account of the 
skating. His arrival made Hilda and Cecily think it high time to 
make a little return for the kindness and hospitality which had been 
shown to us ; or, rather, to induce me to think it. I let myself be 
persuaded, and cards went out for a small evening party. 

The weather was now intensely cold. The river had been flooded 
before the frost set in ; not only that, but also the meadows were 
frozen over. We might almost have been at the North Pole, such 
an expanse of snow and ice did we overlook. The village seemed 
skating mad ; and, not content with the day's amusement, our young 
people would remain on the ice until late at night, for the moon, 
nearing the full, shone brilliantly in a cloudless sky. 



142 The Grey Cottage. 

Leonard, my nephew, was a clever and amusing young fellow, 
holding strong views on many subjects, and propounding them with 
all the energy and decision of youth and inexperience. Old 
customs and old beliefs were not good enough for him — " nous 
avons change tout cela " was his motto. I do not think 'he really 
believed, or rather disbelieved, all he pretended to do. He liked 
to startle us, and delighted in shocking the prejudices of his cousins, 
especially of Hilda, who was a warm partizan of that very ultra 
school of theology which is now so prevalent amongst the young and 
imaginative. On one point, however, they both agreed — a strong 
disbelief in the supernatural. 

The evening of the party arrived, and brought our guests. Six- 
teen in all, including our own young people ; I made the seventeenth. 
The time passed pleasantly, and lastly dancing was introduced. 
They had had a few quadrilles, when one gentleman had to leave, to 
catch a midnight train : and when a double set of Lancers was formed 
after his departure, one was lacking to make it up. There were 
only fifteen. You may think it strange I should enter into such par- 
ticulars, but you will see. 

" You must do double duty, Leonard," I said. 

*' No, aunt," exclaimed Hilda, with a saucy smile. " You shall 
invite old Mr. Vallyer to join us. I wish he would !" 

All laughed ; and then our neighbour, Mrs. Goldsmith, a tall, 
handsome woman, called out that she had no objection to dance 
with the old gentleman — should like to. '' See, here he is ! " 
she went on, making a bow to the sofa cushion in her careless 
merriment, and taking it up in her arms. " You are not accustomed 
to dancing, sir, so we will go to the side. Now kt us begin." 

I had been so used to playing dance music, that I did it quite 
mechanically, often turning half round on the music stool to watch 
the dancers while my fingers were busy. My nieces were fine-look- 
ing girls, and I liked to follow Hilda's striking figure and Cecily's 
quiet grace as they moved through the mazes of the dance. After 
striking up the first inspiriting chords of the Lancers, I turned to 
see how Mrs. Goldsmith was getting on with her " partner." She 
stood opposite to Cecily and young Kirby, a rising engineer, with 
whom she was dancing. Hilda and Leonard were at the bottom of 
the set. 

There was a good deal of laughing at the cushion at first, but it 
soon subsided, and I was glad of it, for I had fatigued myself much 
in preparing for our little entertainment ; my head ached now, and 
the mirth jarred upon my nerves. I began to feel in that stage of 
weariness when voices sound far off; when the hands work on at 
whatever occupies them, without help from the brain ; when the 
thoughts roam away and the eye sees things mistily. It suddenly 
struck me that the room was growing very cold. Just as Mrs. Gold- 
smith was passing me, cushion in arm, I felt a shiver. 



The Grey Cottage. 143 

*' Ten degrees below freezing point last night, and colder to-night/' 
I thought to myself. '' What shall v/e come to ? " 

Turning round again to look at the dancing, I noticed how very 
pale they appeared, and how singularly quiet. Why had they ceased 
talking? As Cecily glided past me, I was struck by her face It 
was white as marble, and her blue eyes were strangely distended and 
fixed with a puzzled kind of fascination on Mrs. Goldsmith. 
Mine followed them. That lady was moving through the figure in 
her stately manner, the cushion still in her arms, and a fixed smile 
on her lips ; and by her side — now, was it an overwrought brain or 
was I dreaming ? Surely the latter, for I felt no surprise, no alarmi 
— tJiere danced by her side a little old man I 

Everything seemed in a mist now, as though the night were foggy,, 
and the fog had got into the room, so I could not see the stranger 
clearly. The music sounded muffled, and my thoughts went back 
to former nights in London, when the thick yellow vapour enveloped 
the streets, and link boys were out, and conductors led omni- 
buses, and people shouted with hollow voices. It seemed hours 
since I began to play that set of Lancers. 

This old man was dressed in a long grey coat, with a little cape, 
and a white spotted neckerchief loosely tied, and he carried a thick 
stick in his hand. He danced in an old-world fashion, executing' 
his steps with great precision, and making formal bows to his partner 
and the rest of the company. Just then Mrs. Goldsmith laid the 
cushion back on the sofa ; shivering apparently with cold, she took 
up a scarf, and wrapped it closely round her, dancing all the time. 
It was now the grand chain in the last figure, and for a moment or 
two I lost sight of the old man. Suddenly there was a wild scream 
— the dance stopped — Cecily had fainted ! 

A medical man, Mr. Brook, was of the party. He attributed 
Cecily's attack to the intense coldness of the weather, and to the 
morning's skating, when she must have over-fatigued herself. The 
depression most of them had felt during the last set of quadrilles he 
put down to the same cause — unusual cold. 

Cecily continued very poorly the following day. She confided to 
me privately her extraordinary impressions of the previous evening. 
I found them to be similar to my own ; but I mentioned nothing 
to her about myself, and laughed a little. 

" But I did see the old man, Aunt Cameron," she persisted. 
"He was by Mrs. Goldsmith's side." 

I would not listen. On the contrary, I treated the matter entirely 
from a common-sense point of view ; endeavouring to persuade her 
that the whole thing was due to an overwrought imagination. Indeed 
I was by no means sure that such was not the case. It was more 
likely that our brains, hers and mine, should have w6rked in the same 
groove, been " en rapport," as the mesmerists would have expressed 
it, than that we should really have seen an apparition. We are all 



144 '^^^^ Gi'ey Cottage. 

aware of those invisible magnetic wires which so often flash a message 
from one brain to another, those mysterious reminders which at times 
precede the arrival of an absent friend — the dream at night followed 
by the letter of the morrow. " There are," as Hamlet hath it, " more 
things in heaven amd earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy." 
What we call the supernatural may be but the gleams of a hidden 
science sometime to be revealed. 

Cecily tried to take up my view of the case. We agreed not to 
mention the matter to Hilda, or to anyone else. 

" Please, Mr. Cameron, you are wanted," said Martha to my 
nephew, interrupting us that same evening when we were all sitting 
together, young Kirby, the engineer, being with us. 

** Who is it ? " cried Leonard. 

" Will you please come out, sir ; he won't give any name." 

Leonard went out. He came back again in a minute or two, and 
beckoned to Kirby, who was playing chess with Hilda. 

*' It's nothing," he said, as we all started up. " Only Martha has 
been frightened at some one standing at the back door and then going 
away without speaking. We'll go round the garden to make sure no 
tramps are about." 

I left the room myself, thinking of tramps, and of nothing else. 
The cottage was so low and so covered by fruit trees and treUis, that it 
would have been a very easy matter to climb into the bed-rooms. 
My window, just over the porch, had especial facilities that way, and 
I went up to it. Opening the lattice very gently, I concealed myself 
behind the curtain and looked out. The moon was bright. The 
voices of the two young men reached me from below. 

" It's queer, Kirby — after all the talk, you know. Martha says she 
opened the door to get some wood, and there the old man stood. 
She thought it was a real tramp, mind you, and she did not like his 
staring in her face and never speaking. I am sure I saw him ; he 
was going round towards the orchard." 

"Very odd !" replied young Kirby. " I saw him too. He was 
leaning over the front gate." 

" And, by Jove, there he is now ! " 

" Where ? " 

" At the gate." 

" I don't see him ! " 

" Nor do I now — he's gone." 

Yes, there was no mistake ; / saw him too from my window ; the 
old man leaning on his stick at the gate, where he used to stand so 
often in life. Presently the two young men came in, and I went 
down. !^" i 

" Have you seen any tramp, Leonard ? " 

" No, aunt. Not a tramp." 

"What then? Anything?" 



The Grey Cottage. 145 

" A little old man leaning on a stick." 

" I saw him too, Mrs. Cameron," added Mr. Kirby. 

" We had better say nothing to the girls," whispered Leonard. 

" No, nor to anyone else, Leonard. The whole place would be 
astir." 

" What — on account of old Vallyer ? " 

I nodded. Just then the girls came running out. 

" What a long time you have been ! Have you found him ? " 

" Of course not," Leonard repHed. " He had got clear off: those 
tramps are cunning. Let us have supper — it's awfully cold ! " 

This second little episode put me very much out of conceit with 
my pretty cottage. My nieces had a pressing invitation from Leonard's 
mother, and were to return with him to London. I thought I would 
go away somewhere too. 

It was the afternoon of the day before Leonard and they were to 
leave. We had had one heavy fall of snow, and the air was again 
thick with the feathery flakes. Strangely depressed, both mentally and 
bodily, I stood alone at the window and looked out over the valley, 
which lay so still under its great white shroud. At last Cecily came 
in and stood by me. 

"You will be very lonely, aunt, after we are gone." 

** Ay." And then we stood in silence. 

Suddenly the girl laid her hand on my arm, as though to attract my 
attention. A chilly draught of wind seemed to blow through the 
room, raising the hair off my forehead with a pricking sensation. 

A feeble, bent figure, leaning heavily on a stick, passed slowly and 
silently from the door to the other window. A coal falling in the 
grate, the flame flickered up, showing distinctly the old man whom I 
had twice before seen ! 

The apparition, for such I now felt it to be, stood looking out of 
the window, with a worn, sad expression, such as his face might often 
have borne in the lonely, loveless life he had chosen for himself. 
After a moment or two of perfect stillness I could bear it no longer. 
Springing to the fire I stirred it vigorously ; the flames rose up into 
the chimney and the little room was in a blaze of light. 

The old man was gone ! Cecily grasped my hands in both her own, 
for she had seen it too ; every trace of the usual bright colour had 
vanished from her lips and face, and she v/^as trembling from head to 
foot. 

I went up with them the next day, and took old Martha with me* 
I could not stay in the place any more. The agent was informed of 
these facts, and he let me off easily, and made no remonstrance ; so 
we thought mine could not have been the first complaint of the sort. 

It is said the grey cottage is to be a cottage no longer ; that it is to 
be pulled down. And I sincerely hope it will be. 

VOL. XXIX. L 



146 



THE EXILES OF SIBERIA. 

Many years ago there appeared a book under the title of ''Elizabeth; 
or, the Exiles of Siberia." For long it retained its popularity, 
and even in this day is still read. It is possible that some of our 
readers have shed tears over the sorrows of the heroic Elizabeth; 
and to such the following facts on which Madame Cottin founded 
her story may not be uninteresting. They are authentic, and ex- 
tracted from letters written at the time from St. Petersburg. 

Letter the First. 

"March, 1805. 
*' I dined on the 26th March at the Princess Torrubetskoy's, and 
there saw a most interesting young woman, not long since arrived 
from Siberia, which tremendous journey of 4,000 versts (miles) she 
performed on foot, quite alone, and begging her bread all the way. 
She came here with the laudable intention of throwing herself at the 
Emperor's feet and petitioning him to show mercy to her aged 
father, who was banished during the reign of Catherine. She had 
formed the resolution when only 1 6 years old, but her parents protest- 
ing against it, she was obliged to submit, though without abandoning 
her project, for she never ceased to supplicate their permission, until, 
wearied with her unceasing prayers, they at last consented. At the 
age of 2 2 she commenced her arduous undertaking ; they gave her 
their blessing, and all the money they possessed, which amounted to 
10 copecks; and soliciting a few copecks more from their equally 
poor but charitable neighbours — for there are no rich people there — 
she left Tobolsk with only a rouble (which varies in value with the 
exchange, but seldom exceeds half-a-crown) in her pocket, and very 
thinly clad, as the climate is much warmer than ours. She suffered 
exceedingly from cold as well as hunger ; but God, she said, raised her 
up many kind friends, which gave her courage to pursue her journey, 
though it could not flatter her hopes of success, for she knew not 
the extent of her father's crimes for which he was banished. She 
never walked less than twenty-five, but oftener thirty miles a day, with- 
out meeting with any particular adventure on the road. She began 
each day's journey with the rising sun, and sought any shelter Provi- 
dence might offer for the approaching night ; she was frequently 
obliged to stop two or three days on account of her feet swelling 
through fatigue. Within a few versts of Moscow, she was received 
at a convent and kindly taken care of for a month. From that 
place she dated the end of her journey, as she obtained a convey- 
ance from thence to St. Petersburg in a kabitky. She completed 
her journey in nine months. The ladies of the convent became so 



I 



The Exiles of Siberia. 14; 

interested in her that they recommended her to the Princess Torru- 
betskoy, a lady famed for humanity, and to whom the poor girl told 
her wishes, hopes and fears. The Princess, ever delighted with an 
opportunity to exercise her benevolence, now had a glorious one. 
Such an instance of filial piety and affection in a person of her 
youth and sex, she thought so sublime that she determined to use 
every exertion in her power to accomplish the wished-for object of 
her journey. She therefore immediately wrote a letter and petition 
to the Emperor, which was presented by Mr. Novasiltgoff. The 
Emperor, who is all goodness, delayed not a moment in sending 
for the young woman, who appeared before him, trembling with weak- 
ness and anxiety. From this she was soon relieved by the Emperor, 
who, in the kindest manner told her, without enquiring the crime of 
the parent, he pardoned it, be it what it might, for the sake of such a 
daughter. He then gave her 2,000 roubles, and presented her to 
the Empress, who gave her 300 roubles, and settled 200 roubles 
a-year pension on her for life, with permission for herself and family 
to live where they pleased. The Dowager Empress has ordered her 
picture to be taken, which will soon get into the print shops. I will 
take care to get you a good copy. Her name is Praskovy Gregorioa 
Lupulova, which in English means Pauline, daughter of Gregory 
Lupulova. She had on a grey calico gown, with long sleeves, and 
full tops, like the English, a large black crape handkerchief on her 
neck, with a chaplet of beads and cross — all of which were given her 
at the convent near Moscow. On her head was a white muslin 
handkerchief, twisted carelessly round, and the ends tied under the 
chin. She has a very soft, pleasing countenance, but not handsome. 
So much interest has her story excited in St. Petersburg, and the par- 
ticular notice taken of her by the Imperial family, it is become quite 
the rage to entertain her. The poor girl's head will be turned \ she 
goes from one nobleman's house to another, staying a week, or some- 
times longer, at each. General Koutousoff has bespoken her, and she 
comes to us in about a month." 

Letter the Second. 

" Pauline is with us. I find her very amiable, and much better 
informed than could be supposed possible in one born and brought 
up in the deserts of Siberia. She seems very grateful and affectionate, 
which is made known more by manner than words, for she only 
speaks Russ, and that so badly we can hardly understand each other. 
She is admitted to Madame Koutousoff 's table, to which the General 
himself leads her every day, but kept strict fast all Lent, not even 
eating fish. Her father, I find, was employed in the palace of the 
late Empress Catherine, in the menial office of looking after the fires, 
when he contrived to steal a large quantity of plate, for which he was 
banished. Madame Cottin's * Elizabeth ' is just brought me, in 
French. I told Pauline it was founded upon her adventures, and 



148 The Exiles of Siberia. 

translated the heads of the story to her. She laughed heartily, and 
said, * A poor girl like me made into such a fine story ! ' She is con- 
sidered in a very bad state of health, the effects of her sufferings. A 
very large subscription has been collected for her, but I fear she will 
not long enjoy it. She has sent for her parents, and intends meeting 
them at Catherinburg, and retiring to a convent. I enquired if she 
meant to embrace a religious life. She smiled and said, ' No ; her 
gratitude to God and the Emperor was unbounded, and would be as 
long as she lived. There was no necessity for her to be a nun, to 
pray at stated times ; her heart was in constant voluntary prayer, and 
God knew with what sincerity.' " 

Letter the Third. 

" I am quite vexed to find the Dowager Empress has strictly for- 
bidden Pauline's picture to be made public. She has had one placed in 
her own cabinet, and a copy sent to each of the Imperial family ; but I 
am determined you shall have a likeness of her, as on her return 
she has promised we shall see her again before she finally settles ; and 
a friend who visits here, a very eminent artist, has assured me he will 
take it for me." 

Letter the Fourth. 

" I am happy in the opportunity of Mr. Gordon's return to 
England, to send you the promised sketch of the interesting Pauline. 
It is an excellent likeness, and I hope you will receive it safely. 
You will see by her dress she is now in a convent. It is situated in 
Lower Novogorod. Her father and mother are pensioners with her^ 
in the same house. She says she feels herself the happiest creature 
in the world." 

** She is since dead ; supposed to have entirely broken her consti- 
tution by fatigue and anxiety, at the early age of twenty-five." 



'-fJii^^S'^tL^SS^S^^ 



149 



LOTTIE'S '^YES." 

By C. E. Meetkerke. 

*' '' I ^WO strings to one's bow may be a good thing, but this is 
i more than a joke, my lady." 

So said Sir Henry, taking out a cigar, that he might be prepared, 
without any signs of a hasty and inglorious retreat, to close a con- 
versation which he thought might possibly be stormy. 

*' More than a joke ? " enquired Lady Davenant, hardly raising 
her eyes from her work. 

" Yes, more than a joke,'' repeated Sir Henry. " Of course, you 
stand up for him : of course, everything that Harry does is right ; 
but does he think that he can marry both those girls ? " 

" Both ? He proposed to Lottie Craven yesterday." 

*' I know that very well, but he has been proposing to Eve Dacre 
every day for the last ten years." 

*'A boy and girl attachment," returned Lady Davenant: "there 
has never been any question of love between Eve and Harry." 

*' Very probably," said Sir Henry : '' but there may be a great deal 
of love and no question at all in the matter." 

" I wonder you are not pleased : it is such an excellent match for 
Harry. Miss Craven has at least six thousand a-year, and Eve will 
not have six hundred." 

** Six thousand a-year is all very well," replied Sir Henry, " although 
if I were to put myself in the market I should like to go for a rounder 
sum than that ! I should very likely be pleased if I could feel sure 
that he was not breaking the heart of a girl who is as near an angel 
as any woman can be, and was not behaving even worse to another." 

" Worse to Lottie Craven ? " cried Lady Davenant, slightly warm- 
ing at this. 

"Yes, worse to Lottie Craven; for how can a man possibly behave 
worse to a woman than when he tells her that he loves her better 
than anything in the world, whilst in real truth he loves nothing 
about her except her money ? " 

" Harry is not mercenary," said Lady Davenant, in a tone full of 
reproach. "He may have faults, but he is not mercenary." 

" Still, if a younger son means to do nothing but lounge about all 
his days, he is bound to marry an heiress." 

" I never knew you so cynical ! He has his profession. He does 
not mean to do nothing." 

" The profession of a guardsman is hardly lucrative ; at any rate, I 
would rather that he stuck to his colours." 

" What do you mean by sticking to his colours ? " 



150 Lotties "Yes." 

Lady Davenant understood perfectly well what her husband meant, 
but the moment he went straight to the point, as was his custom when- 
ever he thought it worth while to see that there was a point, she was 
in the habit of exercising the power which she possessed of bringing 
him to punishment in the shape of explanation. Sir Henry was a 
foxhunter, and foxhunters would rather take any sort of leap than the 
mental one which lands them at the door of an explanation. 

It was after dinner however, and the baronet was wound up to the 
mark, so he replied stoutly : 

" I mean this, that I would rather he gave up his horses, and his 
cigars, and all the rest of it, to spend his days honestly with the 
woman he loves, than that he should vere round and give himself 
up body and soul in exchange for all the guineas that ever were 
coined." 

Lady Davenant went on working assiduously. There is a peculiar 
ring in pure unadulterated truth which it is difficult to silence with 
shams, and Sir Henry Davenant was allowed to go on. 

" I confess I am disappointed in Harry, and I wish Dacre had been 
able to come down from the clouds and settle his ward's affairs before 
all this mystification had set in. However, he may yet find out his 
mistake. He is possibly deceiving himself : he pretends to think he has 
done the right thing, and what everybody expected of him." 

" But so he has," said Lady Davenant, relieved to find that the 
storm was blowing over. " He has behaved very sensibly. It would 
be exceedingly foolish of him to marry Eve. It would be a perpetual 
struggle. Harry would have to exchange into another regiment — 
might be sent abroad, to some outlandish place with a shocking 
climate ! It would be dreadful ! " 

"Very well," said Sir Henry; " then I suppose he has done the 
right thing." And he lighted his cigar, with a sigh of relief that 
he had said what he had intended to say, and that the discussion 
was over. 

But Lady Davenant, left alone, was by no means so easy in her mind 
as she had determined it was best that she should appear to be. 
Harry's cause was his mother's cause, and it was self-evident that a 
good match was more to be desired than a bad one. Her darling 
would be happier in the long run, even if he had to give up the 
romance of his youth, by avoiding the cares, anxieties, and self-im- 
posed but imperative sacrifices entailed by a limited income. 

She was not, however, so sure that he had done what was right. 
She said so : she had told herself so ; but when it is found necessary 
to teach oneself with insistance that a thing is absolutely right, there 
may be room for doubting if it be not absolutely wrong. Harry 
was very dear to her, but Eve was almost equally as dear. Mr. 
Dacre had buried his paternal love under so heavy a mass of learn- 
ing that it never appeared on the surface in any available shape. 
He had found more consolation for a bereaved life in his study 



Lottie's ''Yes!' 151 

than in his nursery, and Lady Davenant had taken to her heart 
the motherless girl, and thought she loved her as she loved her 
own. It would have been terrible to her to have to acknowledge 
that she was ready to sacrifice Eve for an imaginary advantage to 
Harry : and at this point her reflections became so entangled and so 
altogether unsatisfactory that she was not sorry when they were inter- 
rupted by the chief subject of them. The suggestion that her boy 
had been led to act in any way which could be supposed to fall short 
of the high ideal which was, as she asserted to herself, her standard 
for him, was very grievous to her ; but how was it possible that she 
could look upon him, as he threw himself down by her side, and 
listen to any such suggestion? Handsome, charming, and as. 
thoroughly spoilt child, who could find fault with Harry Davenant ? 
For a moment it occurred to her that her husband had seen deeper 
into the matter than any of them. What if that gay and graceful 
air, those tender tricks and flatteries of manner, those outward shows 
of all that seemed most promising within, had been the means of 
robbing Eve Dacre of that which is a woman's best possession, " the 
quiet of her thoughts " ? And what if she herself had been the means 
of bringing about a state of things which they might all eventually 
have to regret ? But she had to throw aside such meditations, and 
to answer Harry's somewhat questioning eyes with a smile. 

" Why are you come back so soon ? I thought you were spending 
the evening at the vicarage." 

" Yes, so I was \ but I got bored — and so I came away." 

" Bored, Hal ? " 

" Yes ; Butler had been asked to meet me, and was full of con- 
gratulations. Really, Eve should have a little more tact. It is so 
extremely annoying to be congratulated ; and what with his ' comple- 
mentary colours ' and his ' symmetrical arrangements,' he is decidedly?' 
a bore. One would think, too, by the way in which the girls look up 
to him, that he was the inventor of the rainbow, and the composer of 
a zonale pelargonium." 

" Harry ! " 

" I was beginning to lose my temper, so I left them." 

" But Mr. Butler thinks of nobody but Eve ; he never listens to 
anybody else. How came he to engross Lottie ? " This was said 
pertinently and with intention. 

" I don't know that he engrossed Lottie ; I don't know that he 
thinks of nobody but Eve." 

" My dear boy ! everybody sees that." 

" Everybody is very often very much mistaken." 

*' There is no mistake about that. I only wish Eve was not so 
indifferent : although perhaps, after all, it is better so. It would be 
an imprudent match." 

" Imprudent ! by Jove, yes ! " 

** And he is quite aware that he has no hope ; he even said as 



152 Lotties ''Yesl' 

much to me, and that she had brought him a happiness beyond all 
bounds, in teaching him that it was in his nature to love in an ideal 
and perfect way : that it was a benefit which no one else could have 
bestowed upon him." 

'' What bosh ! " 

" He said he was passionately grateful to her." 

" The man's an ass ! " 

" No, indeed : he spoke very reasonably. I felt for him so much. 
He said it was better for him not to be happy : that he would hardly 
have worked so well if all had gone smoothly with him. He might 
not have sympathised so much with suffering : he might have become 
self-centred." 

" I can almost hear him ! They were deep in symbols and the 
thing signified when I left them : quoting some German story : a 
water-witch or nymph which was, he declared, * the pure Eve of the 
early world.' He put me in a passion ! " 

" Undine, I suppose." 

"Yes; Lottie said it was an allegory, and then Butler began raving 
in verse and talked some nonsense about love being content to write 
his own name on desert sands, or some such idiotic stuff. They 
would not be persuaded to stir, because he had been visiting the sick 
and was supposed to be knocked up. He graciously allowed himself 
to be made much of, took a dozen cups of tea, and said it was better 
to wear out than to rust out : which astonishingly novel and original 
sentiment Eve applauded. They put me out of all patience ! Girls 
are very well when they don't make fools of themselves; but my 
darling mother, who is always the same, always lovely, always 
sympathetic, always reasonable, is worth a dozen of them ! " 

" A very pretty sentiment for a lover," laughed Lady Davenant. 

Lottie Craven, the cause of what Sir Henry Davenant had called 
" all this mystification," having been left, with her unencumbered six 
thousand a-year, to the guardianship of Mr. Dacre, it was forced 
upon him to take some heed of his duties : the more especially when, 
tired of waiting for his advice, she had come down in person to the 
vicarage. But he, being what Hamlet called himself, a *' John-a- 
dreams," was apt to set aside the obnoxious pressure of business 
matters, and, although he spent more time than ever in his library, 
and even went so far as to hint that a visit to the law courts might 
be imposed upon him, he took no further steps in the settlement of 
her affairs. He became, it is to be admitted, very deeply read in the 
liabilities of trustees and exceedingly well versed in the details of 
new classes of rights and immunities, but days passed into weeks, 
and weeks into months, and still the business was far from being 
definitely arranged ; nothing was settled ; books were consulted ; 
much was said and written and thought upon the statements, dis- 
crepancies, enigmas of the law. The guardian and ward were on the 



Lottie s ''Yesy 153 

best of terms, and consulted daily together, but nothing was done. 
There are still some blessed spots left in the world where nothing 
ever is done. 

During this time Captain Davenant, enjoying his long leave, had 
thrown himself upon the mercy of the vicarage. The girls must 
take compassion upon him, they must save him from the demon of 
ennui, or really something desperate would happen. The appeal had 
not been made in vain, and the long summer days had not apparently 
been felt by him to be utterly unendurable. 

Eve alone, he admitted, might not have always been equal to the 
occasion, she might not always have been able to keep him amused ; 
but with Lottie to assist, Lottie who was gay, Lottie who sang charm- 
ingly, the young guardsman was amazed to find that he had almost 
forgotten what it was to be bored. And then naturally the question 
suggested itself, why should he not endeavour to secure this com- 
panion who was clever and gay and never let him be bored ? It was 
not often that Harry Davenant gave himself up to any very distinct 
current of thought, but in this matter it had become necessary for 
him to think. He put it to himself whether he would be justified in 
throwing away six thousand a-year if it could be had for asking : 
surely such negligence would be inexcusable. It was not as if there 
were any drawbacks. In this case everything went together : good 
looks, money, talent. She was, perhaps, rather too talented : he feared 
she might be considered too talented ; she said sharp things ; she 
read hard books ; that was against her ; but he could soon cure her 
of that — it was the outcome of having nothing to do, and at all events 
he could forbid her to talk about them. There was nothing in the 
world, he thought, so objectionable as a woman who imagined herself, 
or who was imagined by others to be blue. 

Then she was evidently very fond of him. She had been in 
good society and knew a man of the world from a common sort of 
man. She never spoke to the curate when he was by; that showed 
her sense and her discrimination. Now, the curate was a thorn in 
Harry's side. He did not acknowledge even to himself that it was 
so ; and their occupations, their views and hopes of life, were so 
widely separate that there appeared no possible reason, for jealousy 
or jar : but still Harry never possessed his soul in peace in the pre- 
sence of Lionel Butler. Infinitely as he considered himself his 
superior, he was ill at ease before him, and had to acknowledge that 
he never did anything well when Butler was in the room. 

The curate was a self-made man ; there was not a shadow of 
conventionality about him — industrious from necessity, studious 
both from necessity and choice, without pretension of any kind, 
simple, unworldly, absolutely honest. And this man, who was sensibly 
deficient in the ornamental qualities upon which Harry Davenant 
especially prided himself, had the effect of dispossessing him of the 
very charms by which he held himself to excel ; of making him see 



154 Lotties "Yes." 

himself as he really was, becoming a sort of conscience to him ; than 
which there is hardly a more direct road to aversion. 

Lottie Craven was always ready to support Harry : she endorsed 
his views and opinions ; they were the views and opinions of 
society ; and when the curate came down with a heavy hand upon 
some fashionable fallacy, and shattered a sophism, all unconscious of 
discourtesy, she would rebuke him by her silence or lead him on to 
give voice to his unvarnished creeds in a still more ungainly manner. 
Harry thought very highly of her for this : he liked pride in a girl : 
he liked that she should look as by right over the heads of men 
who were obliged to work ; and that, with a certain subtle difference 
of manner, she should make it understood that the companion of 
her choice was the man to whom belonged by birth and by design 
the gifts of fortune. One may approve of the bee, but the butterfly 
is naturally to be preferred. 

It was different with regard to Eve : she was less well versed in 
social distinctions, and showed plainly enough that the curate's 
society was pleasing to her. She deferred to his opinion, she sought 
for instruction at his hands, she entered into his views, carried out his 
plans, obeyed his instructions. Eve ! When Harry's thoughts turned 
in that direction they became harassing to him, and so he set them 
aside and returned to the contemplation of Lottie, her pretty looks, 
her manners, her brightness, her six thousand a-year ; which contem- 
plation naturally brought him in due course of time to a proposal, 
very eloquently, very confidently made, and to which Lottie said 
** Yes," in a grave, considerate way, without blushes or tears, or any 
girlish nonsense of any kind. 

He liked that ; as he afterwards assured himself, any vehement 
demonstration of tenderness would have been unpleasing to him. 
" Yes," with serene, somewhat penetrating and questioning eyes raised 
to his face ; almost with a smile ; with a little hesitation as to the 
words, a little quiver of the lips ; with a decided withdrawal of the 
hand he had taken in his ; but still " Yes." 

Friendship is rare amongst women ; that supreme confidence which 
a woman feels in a man who is her friend is not often felt by one 
woman towards another : but there had been a great deal of this con- 
fidence, a great deal of that which is very like friendship, between 
Eve Dacre and Lottie Craven until the day when Harry Davenant 
proposed to Lottie, and Lottie said " Yes." And then a great gulf 
opened between them. Not that any such division was acknow- 
ledged in so many words. Eve might have accused her friend of 
having robbed her of a treasure which had been all her own, of having 
stolen in upon her with gentle words, tender professions and loving 
eyes, and robbed her ; of having entered into the secret chamber of 
her heart to scatter its most precious possessions. And Lottie might 
have replied that to have refused the faithless lover of her friend 
would not have rendered him less faithless ; and that there was no 



Lottie's ''Yes:' 155 

cruelty on her part, except of that necessary sort which is better than 
kindness, since there can be nothing in the world more to be dreaded 
than a fool's paradise. But Eve brought no such accusation, there- 
fore Lottie had no need to put forward any defence. 

It takes a long time to believe in misfortune when the storm 
comes, and ''tears up all the roses from the garden." A great con- 
fusion of mind is one of its first effects. Eve knew that she had 
received a blow under which it was next to impossible that she 
should stand upright ; but she did not feel sure that she had any 
right to fall down. Her love for Harry Davenant had grown with 
her growth ; but she could not say that she had been asked to 
bestow it upon him, or that she had been illused when he flung it 
away. It had been a part of herself, and now it had gone from 
her. But what right had she to complain ? She had reposed no 
particular confidence in Lottie, and could hardly assert that she had 
been betrayed. Yet she could not help being aware that her secret 
had come into the possession of her friend at a very early period 
of their intimacy. Such being the case, there could be no doubt 
that an act of treason had been virtually committed, for which, 
although there might be no form of accusation, there could also be 
no excuse and no forgiveness. 

She now reflected with a shudder on the hypocrisy of her rival : 
that whenever they had spoken together of Harry Davenant, Lottie 
had been at much pains to disparage him. The good looks which 
everybody else combined to praise had been depreciated by Lottie ; 
she had even averred that Lionel Butler's more reflective face, 
though sinning against perfection, was altogether better pleasing to 
her.. She had been very strong upon the subject of Harry's faults : 
so strong, that her want of sympathy, or what Eve was now obliged to 
acknowledge was her pretended want of sympathy, upon this dearest 
of all subjects, had prevented that cordial response on her own 
part to Lottie's tender expressions of affection which Lottie had a 
right to expect. She had often reproached herself for the coldness 
of her own temperament, and had hardly understood the enthu- 
siastic devotion which Lottie expressed for her. She remembered 
with painful distinctness one especial conversation in which Lottie had 
extolled the merits of friendship, had defined its duties, privileges, 
and joys : how far superior she had declared it to be in its truth, 
its tenderness, and abnegation, to the selfish and delusive passion 
of love. What scheming — what unreality — what hypocrisy, had 
there not been in all this ! and how utterly she had been deceived ! 
She had lost both lover and friend, and could only cover up her 
grief and bear herself so bravely that she might not incur the danger 
of compassion or the humiliation of sympathy. 

Some days passed by, and the calm had set in after the storm. 
People had fallen into their places, but still there was an undercurrent 
of convulsion, and the atmosphere was not so serene as it appeared. 



156 Lotties ''Yes" 

Whilst their elders sat still, not exactly waiting, but still not unpre- 
pared for change, the chief actors in the play were anxious and 
uneasy, and felt as if beset by a feverish desire to engage in some 
sort of a conflict, or at least a skirmish, to relieve the torpid tumult 
in the air. In the attainment of this object Harry Davenant was 
more successful than the others. By way of displaying a due devo- 
tion to his bride elect, he found it necessary to exalt her with an 
overwhelming exhibition of preference. She rode, she sang, she 
talked, she dressed better than any other woman ; more especially 
better than Eve, his early friend and companion. He found fault 
with Eve ; she was out of sorts, she was looking wretchedly ill : a 
woman ought to be always bright, always gay, always with fresh roses 
on her cheeks ! Why should a woman ever be ill ? She had always 
time to take care of herself, and never had any worry. She never 
need have any worry if she did not make grievances. A man who 
drives himself to be cruel to the woman he loves, has penetrated to 
the very depths of one of the strongest possibilities of his nature. 
With every new pang which he inflicts a new sense of triumph is born 
within him, and the weaker the mind of the man the stronger the 
passion becomes, and the more complete the consciousness of satis- 
faction. But the sport is not enjoyable to the lookers-on, and if Eve 
thought he was right although he was cruel, and acknowledged that 
she was out of sorts : that she neither rode nor sang nor spoke with 
spirit, did not even dress so well as she used to do, or else the 
colours did not become her so well : there was a deep sympathy gather- 
ing round her, and if silent participation in her suffering could have 
assuaged it she would not have lacked consolation. 

Lionel Butler, in his anxiety for them all, forgot to grieve for him- 
self. In fact, he had put himself altogether out of the question. Eve 
was unhappy : that was the chief thing. The friendship between her 
and Lottie was evidently broken; the growing coldness between them 
was apparent \ not so much on Lottie's side, whose looks followed her 
friend with a regretful tenderness, which Lionel thought became her 
better than any of her looks ; but Eve avoided her, and was too 
honest to affect a kindness she no longer felt. Was it possible, he 
asked himself, that Lottie could have been anything less than loyally 
true to this flower and pearl among women ? Then, again, would 
Lottie herself be happy with Harry Davenant ? Was he a man to 
make a woman of sense and feeling perfectly happy ? and was he not 
also endangering his own peace of mind ? Was he not sacrificing 
the best feelings of his heart to mercenary considerations ? The 
kindly curate trembled for them all, but was powerless to guide or to 
assist. It would have been useless and impertinent in him to inter- 
fere, but had he been sure that he could be of use he would have 
risked the impertinence. 



Lotties ''Yesr 157 



II. 
There came an evening when our dramatis personae had dined 
together and adjourned to the garden. The engaged lovers, suppos- 
ing that no less could be expected from them, sauntered away, but 
they sauntered lingeringly and cast backward looks at the little party 
they left. Sir Henry and Mr. Dacre sat apart, the murmur of their 
voices and the scent of their cigars just within range of perception. 
Lady Davenant, with her work of many colours, presented a refreshing 
picture of domestic tranquillity, and Eve and the curate were together, 
conversing ; they were always conversing, Harry had affirmed. 

The rest after a harassing day was solacing to Eve; her face 
wore something of its once habitual serenity, and Lionel Butler 
thought that the poet's picture of Mary Ashburnham described her 
well. " Angels in the old poetic philosophy have such forms : 
a temple dedicated to Heaven, and, like the Pantheon at Rome, 
lighted only from above, and earthly passions in the form of gods 
no longer there, but the sweet and thoughtful faces of the Saints : so 
that he who had a soul to comprehend hers must of necessity love her, 
and having once loved her could love no other woman ever more." 

He could not help uttering the words more than half aloud, and 
Lady Davenant asked if he were quoting poetry. 

" Only the best prose." 

" Hyperion," said Eve. "A book which unsettles one ; whenever 
I open it I want to go to Germany." 

"Go to Marburg!" exclaimed Lionel, "and spend a day in the 
church ; it is celebrated for its pure and perfect architecture. The 
pointed arches of the nave are exquisite." 

" I would rather go to Heidelberg and lie all day upon the 
Castle Hill." 

" You would enjoy the paintings and the sculpture," continued 
Lionel ; he would wait patiently, but was not easily turned by an 
unsympathetic remark. " They bear about them the simple and 
tender charm of early Christian art, and there is a statue of 
Elizabeth of Hungary holding in her right hand the model of a 
church whilst giving alms to a cripple at her feet." 

"You have got the guide-book by heart," said Eve, laughing. 

" I know the place well," replied Lionel, undisturbed ; " the stones 
of the chapel where her relics were deposited are worn away by the 
steps of pilgrims." 

" But her ashes were strewn to the winds, and her history reads 
more like that of a mad woman than of a saint," said Eve. 

"She was a mistaken martyr," he replied, "and the just limits of 
self-sacrifice are hard to define." 

" Lottie thinks that self-sacrifice is everything," said Eve, reflec- 
tively. " She hardly believes in any sort of affection that is not 
proved by some extreme act of devotion ; at least, she says so." 



158 Lottie's ''VesJ' 

*' I should hardly think Miss Craven likely to act up to her 
theory," returned Lionel; "but one ought not to judge: one can 
never be sure." 

Then Eve got up as if endeavouring to shake off some irritating 
thought. Lionel got up too, and the lovers in the distance saw 
them wandering away. " I wish Eve would take compassion upon 
him," said Lottie. 

" Would what ? " exclaimed Harry. The vehement manner and the 
angry flush which rose hotly to his face were not lost upon Lottie. 

" You think it a bad match for Eve," she said ; *' but he is a 
good man." 

" In the highest degree poor and pious ! " 

" You are no judge, being so prejudiced." 

" Prejudiced ? " (very warmly). " Why should I be prejudiced ? " 

Lottie looked up with a smile, which was not altogether pleasant 
to Harry Davenant. He was beginning to distrust Lottie's smiles. 
A sudden turn brought the divergent couples together. " You were 
interrupted the other day in your criticism on Undine," Eve was 
saying. 

" Yes : I wanted you to see that Undine is evidently a spirit," re- 
plied Lionel ; " not the soulless daughter of rivers and floods, but 
the spirit of beauty, worshipped in all ages, however little compre- 
hended — a gift and a revelation, and born of water." 

" Out of your depth again," broke in Harry, with something less 
than his usual urbanity. " You both deserve to be drowned in 
your rivers and your floods ! Pray take a turn with me, and stop 
moralizing," he continued, placing Eve's hand within his arm. " I 
think it must be all these inductions and inferences and disputa- 
tions which make you look so wretchedly pale." 

There was a curious mixture of amusement and regret in Lottie's 
eyes as they passed out of sight. '* I hardly know what you think 
about it, Mr. Butler," she said, turning towards him, " but I am very, 
very sorry." 

" Sorry for yourself, or for Miss Dacre, or for both ? " asked 
Lionel. 

" I have not thought much of myself," replied Lottie, " but I 
would lay down my life for Eve." 

Lionel looked at her steadily for a few moments ; then he took her 
hand and pressed it very warmly in both his own. 

It was quite an hour before Eve came back ; she returned alone 
and paler than ever. Attempting to make some apology for her delay, 
Lottie stopped her and whispered lightly, " Lovers are proverbially 
laggards." 

" There were no lovers, Lottie," said Eve. 

" No lovers ? " repeated Lottie, drawing Eve into the study, and 
closing the door as if to prevent her escape. ** Then I think you 
hardly know the meaning of the word ! But seriously, it is a pity that 



Lottie's "Yes" 159 

Captain Davenant cannot bring himself to be more reasonable : he 
has tried very hard." Eve remaining mute, she went on. " You 
are puzzled ? you don't understand ? Well, there has been too 
much darkness between us : let it all be clear now." 

" Oh Lottie ! how can it be clear ? " 

*' Why not ? In the first place, as Harry Davenant is to be my 
husband, I desire to hear exactly what passed when he marched off 
with you in that majestic manner : I must know every word he said 
to you, and every word you said to him." 

" I cannot — I must not ; do not ask me ! " 

" But if I insist upon it ? " said Lottie gravely. 

*' Pray, pray do not : you do not know how wretched you are 
making me ! " 

" Yes, I do ; but it will soon be over : you are having a tooth out 
which has ached for a long time, but is never going to ache any 
more. You will not confess ? not a word ? Well, then, I must try to 
guess what passed. In the first place, Captain Davenant took upon 
himself to object to your tete-a-tete with ' that fellow Lionel Butler. 
It was,' he declared, ' unusual — unheard of — undignified ! he would 
not allow it ! ' You are not easily roused, but you were roused at 
this, and you said that he had no right to dictate to you, that he 
had lost all right ! Is not this somewhere near the mark ? " 

Eve smiled, a little faint wintry smile, and Lottie proceeded. 

"He 'wondered what you could possibly see in Lionel Butler — 
unpolished, uncivilised — a perfect Goth — that neither of you under- 
stood the rules of good society ! — you did not seem to be aware what 
was correct and what was not !' — so on, ad infinitum; and then you 
turned upon him. Did you turn upon him. Eve ? " 

" Lottie, I think you must have heard every word." 

" But I haven't done yet. You conquered him — you shamed 
him — you brought him to your feet, and he forgot that there was 
such a person in the world as Lottie ! He declared that it was you 
he loved — and that he was jealous, furiously jealous ! But yot^ did 
not forget me, Eve ! you were true as steel to your friend, and you 
left him — left him in his passion and his grief and his remorse, with- 
out daring to give one look behind ! " 

Eve only answered with her tears, and Lottie went on. " And 
now for my confession ! Balzac says that a woman's friendship is 
much better worth having than her love. I gave you all mine, and 
was romantic enough to wish to prove it by an act of self-immolation, 
which everybody except yourself would have understood. Your love 
for Harry Davenant perplexed and troubled me. Self-satisfied and 
shallow, he was, as I imagined, carelessly and arrogantly trifling with 
your deep affection, and I made up my mind that no sacrifice could 
be too great whereby to force you into seeing him, not in the colours 
of your fancy, but in his own true colours : man of the world, heart- 
less and mercenary. No words of mine could have persuaded you of 



i6o Lottie's ''Yes." 

this, but if he should be led to throw over a life's love without a 
struggle, even you must be convinced that he was worthless. It 
happened just as I desired, but he was not firm enough to carry it 
through. He is far more honest than I thought, and cannot disguise 
that he has come very nearly to hating me, and that he is truly, 
seriously, distractedly in love with you." 

" Lottie ! Lottie ! what is it you mean ? " 

" I was in hopes you might have been won by a better man — a 
man that it would be a privilege to follow to the ends of the earth ! 
but my plans have failed ; I meant to have made a victim of myself 
for the good of you all : I have ' steered out in mid-sea by guidance 
of the stars,' so shipwreck was to be expected ! " 

*' Dear, dear Lottie ! How I have misunderstood you ! " 

Yes, indeed ! and now what is to be done ? Who is going to 
disentangle the skein, and to explain to Harry Davenant what Lottie 
Craven meant when she said " Yes "? 

FIRST TIME AT CHURCH. 
Just three years old ! and without a thought of all the rites and creeds ; 
Just three years old ! and unconscious quite of the soul's unbounded needs; 
Content it should draw what life it may from the food on which it feeds. 

Just three years old ! and brought to church to sit in the narrow pew. 

And wonder at all the mysteries that rise before her view — 

The noiseless movement down the aisle ; the crowd, and the faces new ; 

The organ that peals out magic strains, though hidden from the sight ; 
The arches, and windows of pictured glass that tow'r to such a height ; 
The eagle that bears the Bible up ; the choir in their robes of white. 

To wonder and watch with childish awe that is more than mere surprise, 
That seems to catch in the tones of earth some echo of the skies, 
And reflects itself in the tender face, in the solemn, wide grey eyes, 

Out of whose cloudless, dewy depths glimmers the earliest ray 

Of the awak'ning love, whose dawn heralds a fuller day. 

When, though the shadows may darker lie, the mists will melt away — 

When the types shall find their antitypes, and the mysteries be made clear^ 
Though the deeper mysteries beyond will gather yet more near. 
Awaiting a new and brighter dawn e'er they shall disappear. 

Just three years old ! and brought to church, though she can take no share 
In the praises rising to God's high Throne, in confession or earnest pray'r ; 
Brought but to learn the reverence due to the awfial Presence there. 

Just three years old ! with folded hands, she kneels when the others kneel ; 
And surely the blessing which falls on them may also gently steal 
Over the innocent baby head, bent down in mute appeal. 

Emma Rhodes. 



THE ARGOSY. 

MARCH, 1 8 80. 



THE MYSTERIES OF HERON DYKE. 



CHAPTER VII. 

COMING TO DINNER.' 

MISS WINTER sat in her low chair by the window of her 
sitting-room in the north wing ; for though she had abandoned 
her bed-room in that quarter, she still, on occasion, sat in that. A 
closed book lay on her lap, her chin was resting on the palm of one 
hand, and her eyes, to all appearance, were taking in for the thousandth 
time the features of the well-known scene before her. But in reality 
she saw nothing of it : her thoughts were elsewhere. This was 
Tuesday, the day fixed for Edward Conroy to dine at the Hall. How 
came it that his image — the image of a man whom she had seen but 
twice in her life — dwelt so persistently in her thoughts ? She was 
vexed and annoyed with herself to find how often her mind went 
wandering off in a direction where — or so she thought — it had no 
right to go. She tried her hardest to keep it under control, to fill it 
with the occupations that had hitherto suflficed for its quiet content- 
ment, but at the first unguarded moment it was away again, to bask 
in sunshine, as it were, till caught in the very act, and haled igno- 
miniously back. 

" Why must I be for ever thinking about this man ? " she askedi 
herself petulantly, as she sat this morning by the window, and a 
warm flush thrilled her even while the question was on her lips. 
She was ashamed to remember that even at church on Sanday 
morning she could not get the face of Edward Conroy out of her 
thoughts. The good Vicar's sermon had been more prosy and com- 
monplace than usual, and do what she might, Ella could not fix her 
attention on it. She caught herself half a dozen times calling to 
mind what Conroy had said on Thursday, and wondering what he 

VOL. XXIX. M 



102 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

would say on Tuesday. She had no intention of falling in love, 
either with him or with any other man ; on that point she was firmly 
resolved. She and Maria Kettle had long ago agreed that they could 
be of more use in the world, of greater service to the poor, the sick, 
and the forlorn among their fellow creatures as single women than as 
married ones ; and Ella, for her part, had no intention of letting any 
man carry her heart by storm. 

Yet, after making all these brave resolutions; here she was, wonder- 
ing and hesitating as to which dress she should wear, as she had never 
wondered or hesitated before ; and when the clock struck eleven she 
caught herself saying, " In six more hours he will be here." Then 
she jumped up quickly with a gesture of impatience. She was the 
slave of thoughts over which she seemed to have no control. It was 
a slavery that to her proud spirit was intolerable. She could not read 
this morning. Her piano appealed to her in vain. Her crewel work 
seemed the tamest of tame occupations. She put on her hat and 
scarf, and, calling to Turco, set off at a quick pace across the park. 
Perhaps the fresh bracing air that blew over the sand-hills would cool 
the fever of unrest that was in her veins. Once she said to herself, 
" I wish he had never come to Heron Dyke! " But next moment 
a proud look came into her face and she said, " Why should I fear 
him more than any other ? " 

Ella Winter has hitherto been spoken of as though she were 
]\Ir. Denison's niece : she was in reality his grand-niece, being the 
grand-daughter of an only sister, who had died early in her married 
life, leaving one son behind her. This son, at the age of twenty-two, 
married a sister of Mrs. Carlyon, but his wedded life was of brief 
duration. Captain Winter and his wife both died of fever in the West 
Indies, leaving behind them Ella, their only child. 

Mrs. Carlyon, a widow and childless, would gladly have adopted 
the orphan niece who came to her under these sad circumstances, 
but Squire Denison would not hear of such a thing. He had a 
prior claim to the child, he said, and she must go to him and be 
brought up under his care. He had no children of his own, and 
never would have any : Ella was the youngest and last descendant 
of the elder branch of the family, and Heron Dyke and all that per- 
tained to it should be hers in time to come ; provided always that he, 
Gilbert Denison, should live to see his seventieth birthday. He had 
loved his sister Lavinia as much as it was in his nature to love anyone ; 
and her son, had he lived, would, in the due course of things, have 
been his heir. But he was dead, leaving behind him only this one 
poor little girl. To Gilbert Denison it seemed that Providence had 
dealt very hardly by him in giving him no male heir to inherit the 
family honours. He himself would have married years ago had he 
anticipated such a result. 

For six hundred years the property had come down from male heir 
to male heir, but now at last the line of direct succession would 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 163 

be broken. " If Ella had only been a boy ! " he sighed to himself a 
thousand times : but Ella was that much more pleasing article— 
except from the heir-at-law point of view — a beautiful young woman, 
and nothing could make her anything else. 

On the confines of the park, just as she was about to turn out of 
it, Ella met Captain Lennox, who was coming to call on the Squire. 
It was the first time Ella had seen him since her return from London, 
for the Captain had been again from home. He had aristocratic 
relatives, it was understood, in various parts of the kingdom, and was 
often away on visits to them for weeks together. 

"You are looking better than you were that night at Mrs. Carlyon's," 
he remarked, as they stood talking. 

" Am I ? " returned Ella, a rosy blush suffusing her face — for the 
idea somehow struck her that Mr. Conroy's presence in the neigh- 
bourhood might be making her look bright. 

" Very much so, I think. Mrs. Carlyon was not quite satisfied 
with your looks then. By-the-way," added the Captain after a 
pause, " has she recovered her jewels, that were lost that night ? " 

" No. She is quite in despair. I had a letter from her yesterday. 
You heard of the loss then. Captain Lennox ? " 

" I heard of it the following day. Ill news travels fast," he added 
lightly, noting Ella's look of surprise. 

" How did you hear of it ? I fancied you left London that 
day." 

" No, the next. I heard of it from young Cleeve. He called 
on Mrs. Carlyon that morning, and came back in time for me and 
Bootle to see him off. Cleeve told us of the loss on his way to the 
station. It was a time of losses. Miss Winter. I lost my purse, 
and poor Bootle his watch — one he valued — the same night." 

" Yes, Freddy told us of it later. He thought you were robbed 
in the street." 

" I know he thought so. I did at first. But our losses were 
nothing compared with Mrs. Carlyon's jewels," continued Captain 
Lennox rapidly, as though he would cover his last words. " And 
the jewel case was found the next day^ and the thief must have 
walked off with the trinkets in his pocket !" 

" Just so. And they were worth quite three hundred pounds." 

Captain Lennox opened his eyes. " Three hundred pounds ! So 
much as that ! I wonder how they were taken ? By some light- 
handed fellow, I suppose, who contrived to find his way upstairs 
amid the general bustle of the house." 

" No, we think not. The servants say it was not well possible 
for anyone to do that unnoticed ; Aunt Gertrude thinks the same.. 
And the servants are all trustworthy. It is a curious matter altogether." 

Captain Lennox looked at her. " Surely you cannot suspect any 
of the guests ? " 

" It would be uncharitable to do that," was Ella's light answer. 



164 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 

But the keen-witted Captain noticed that she did not deny it more 
decisively. 

" What a pity but the jewels had been safely locked up ! " he 
exclaimed. 

" The dressing-room, in which they were, was locked ; at least, the 
key was turned — and who would be likely to intrude into it ? Aunt 
Gertrude remembers that perfectly. She found Philip Cleeve lying 
on the sofa in her boudoir with a bad head-ache, and she went into 
the dressing-room to get her smelling-salts, unlocking the door to 
enter. Whether she relocked it is another matter." 

" Did Cleeve notice whether anybody else went in, while he was 
lying there ? " 

" He thinks not, but he can't say for certain — we asked him 
that question the next morning. He fancies that he fell asleep for 
a few minutes: his head was very bad. Anyway, the jewels are 
gone, and Aunt Gertrude can get no clue to the thief, so it is hopeless 
to talk of it," concluded Ella, somewhat wearily. "How is your 
sister ? " 

" Quite well, thank you. Why don't you come and see her ? '' 

" I will ; I have been very busy since I came home. And tell her, 
please, that I hope she will come to see me. Good-bye for the present. 
Captain Lennox : you are going on to my uncle ; perhaps you will 
not be gone when I get back; I shall not be long." 

Ella tripped lightly on, Turco striding gravely beside her. Captain 
Lennox stood for a minute to look after her. 

"I wonder," he muttered to himself, stroking his whiskers — a habit 
of his when he fell into a brown study — " whether it has crossed Airs. 
Carlyon's mind to suspect Philip Cleeve ? " 

After all her vacillation, Ella went down to dinner that evening 
in a simple white dress. She could hardly have chosen one to suit 
her better ; at least, so thought Mr. Conroy, when he entered the 
room. The dinner was not homely, as on the first occasion of 
his dining there ; Ella had ordered it otherwise. It was served 
on some of the grand old family plate, not often brought to light ; 
and the table was decorated with flowers from the Vicar's charming 
garden. 

But what surprised Aaron more than anything else was to see his 
master dressed, and wearing a white cravat. He went about the 
house muttering, sotto voce, that there were no fools like old fools, and 
if these sort of extravagant doings were about to set in at the Hall 
— soups and fish and foreign kickshaws — it was time old-fashioned 
attendants went out of it. The Squire, in fact, had so thoroughly 
inoculated the old man with his own miserly ways, that for Aaron 
to see an extra shilling spent on what he considered unnecessary, 
waste, was to set him grumbling for a day. 

Whether it was that Ella had a secret dread of passing another 
evening alone with Conroy, or whether her intention was to render 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 165 

the evening more attractive to him, she had, in any case, asked her 
uncle to allow her to invite the Vicar and Maria, Lady Cleeve and 
Philip, and Captain Lennox and his sister, to meet Mr. Conroy at 
dinner. But here the Squire proved obstinate. Not one of the 
people named would he invite, or indeed anyone else. " That 
young artist fellow is welcome to come and take pot-luck with us," 
he said, " but Til have none of the rest. And why I asked him, 
I'm sure I don't know. There was something about him, I suppose, 
that took my fancy : though what right an invalid man like me has 
to have fancies, is more than I can tell." 

Conroy seemed quite content to find himself the solitary 
guest. Ella was more reserved and silent than he had hitherto seen 
her, but he strove to interest her and melt her reserve ; and after a 
time he succeeded in doing so. Once or twice, at first, when she 
caught herself talking to him with animation, or even questioning 
him with regard to this or the other, she suddenly subsided into 
silence, blushing inwardly as she recognised how futile her resolves 
and intentions had proved themselves to be. Conroy seemed not 
to notice these abrupt changes, and in a little while Ella would 
again become interested, again her eyes would sparkle, and eager 
questions tremble on her lips. Then all at once an inward sting 
would prick her, her lips would harden into marble firmness and 
silence. But these alternations of mood could not last for ever; and 
by-and-by the charm and fascination of the situation proved too 
much for her. " After this evening I shall probably never see him 
again," she pleaded to herself, as if arguing with some inward monitor. 
" What harm can there be if I enjoy these few brief hours ? " 

Mr. Denison was more than usually silent. Now and then, after 
dinner, he dozed for a {t^^N minutes in his huge leathern chair ; and 
presently, as though he yearned to be alone, he suggested that Conroy 
and Ella should take a turn in the grounds. 

Ella wrapped a fleecy shawl round her white dress and they set 
out. Traces of sunset splendour still lingered in the western sky, but 
from minute to minute the dying colours changed and deepened : 
saffron flecked with gold fading into sea-green, and that into a succes- 
sion of soft opaline tints and pearly greys edged here and there with 
delicate amber : while in mid-sky the drowsy wings of darkness were 
creeping slowly down. 

They walked on through the dewy twilight glades of the park. 
Conroy seemed all at once to have lost his speech. Neither of them 
had much to say, but to both the silence exhaled a subtle sweetness. 
There are moments when words seem a superfluity — almost an im- 
pertinence. To live, to breathe — to feel that beside you is the living, 
breathing presence of the one supremely loved, is all that you ask 
for. It is well, perhaps, that such sweetly dangerous moments come 
so seldom in a lifetime. 

They left the park by a wicket, took a winding footway through 



1 66 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

the plantation beyond, and reached the sand-hills, where they sat 
down for a few moments. Before them lay the sea, touched in mid- 
distance with faint broken bars of silvery light : for by this time the 
moon had risen, and all the vast spaces of the sky were growing 
brighter with her presence. 

" How this scene will dwell in my memory when I am far away !" 
exclaimed Conroy at length. 

" Are you going far away ? " asked Ella, in a low voice. 

" I received a letter from head-quarters this morning, bidding 
me hold myself in readiness to start for Africa at a few hours' 
notice." 

" For Africa ! That is indeed a long way off. Why should you 
be required to go to Africa ? " 

"The King of Ashantee is growing troublesome. We are likely 
before long to get from words to blows. War may be declared at 
any moment." 

** And the moment war is declared you must be ready to start ? " 

'' Even so. Wherever I am sent, there I must go." 

'' Yours is a dangerous vocation, Mr. Conroy. You run many 
risks." 

" A few — not many. As for danger, there is just enough of it to 
make the life a fascinating one." 

"Yes ; if I were a man I don't think I could settle down into a 
quiet country gentleman. I should crave for a wider horizon, for a 
more adventurous life, for change, for " 

She ended abruptly. Once again her enthusiasm was running 
away with her. There was a moment's silence, and then she went 
on, laughing. " But I am content to be as I am, and to leave 
such wild rovings to you gentlemen ! And now we must go back to 
my uncle, or he will wonder what has become of us." 

Little was said during the walk back. Despite herself, Ella's heart 
sank at the thought of Conroy's going so far away. She asked, 
mentally and impatiently, what it could matter to her where he went. 
Had she not said twenty times that to-morrow all this would seem 
like a dream, and that in all likelihood she and Conroy would never 
meet again ? What matter, then, so long as they did not see each 
other, whether they were separated by five miles or five thousand ? 

" Body o' me ! I thought you were lost," exclaimed the Squire, as 
they re-entered the room. " Been for a ramble, eh ? seen the sea ! 
Fine evening for it. And when do you come down into this part of 
the country again, Mr. Sketcher ? " 

" That is more than I can say, sir. My movements are most 
erratic and uncertain." 

" Mr. Conroy thinks it not unlikely he may be sent to Africa 
— to Ashantee," said Ella, a little ring of pathos in her voice. 

" Ah — ah — nothing like plenty of change when you are young. 
Bad climate though, Ashantee, isn't it. You'll have to be careful 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 167 

Yellow Jack doesn't lay you by the heels. He's a deuce of a fellow, 
out there, from all I've heard. Eh ?" 

" I must take my chance of that, sir, as other people have to do." 

*' You talk like a lad of spirit. Snap your fingers in the face of 
Yellow Jack, and ten to one he'll glance at you and pass you by. It's 
the tremblers he lays hold of first." 

*' Why should you be chosen, Mr. Conroy, for the posts of 
danger?" inquired Ella. ''Cannot some one else share such 
duties ? " 

" Is it not possible that I may prefer such duties to any other ? 
They do not suit everyone. As it happens, they suit me." 

" Have you no mother or sister — who may fear your running into 
unnecessary dangers ? " 

" I have neither mother nor sister. I have a father : but he lets 
me do what seems right in my own eyes." 

Mr. Denison took what for him was a very cordial leave of 
Conroy. " If I am alive when you come back," he said, as he held 
the younger man's hand in his for a moment, " do not forget that 
there will be a welcome for you at Heron Dyke. If I am not alive 
— then it won't matter, so far as I am concerned." 

Ella took leave of Conroy at the door. Hardly more than a 
dozen words passed between them. " If you must go to Africa,"' 
she said, " I hope you will not run any needless risks." 

*' I will not. I promise it." 

*'We shall often think of you," she added, in a low voice. 

" And I of you, be you very sure." 

Her fingers were resting in his hand. He bent and pressed them ta- 
his lips, and — the next moment was gone. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

AT THE LILACS. 

NuLLiNGTON was a sleepy little town, standing a mile, or more, from 
Heron Dyke, and boasted of some seven or eight thousand 
inhabitants. The extension of the railway to NuUington was sup- 
posed to have made a considerable addition to its liveliness and 
bustle : but that could only be appreciated by those who remembered 
a still more sleepy state of affairs, when the nearest railway station 
was twenty miles away, and when the Mermaid coach seemed one 
of those institutions which must of necessity last for ever. 

NuUington stood inland. Of late years a sort of suburb to the 
old town had sprung up with mushroom rapidity on the verge of the 
low sandy cliffs that overlooked the sea, to which the name of New 
NuUington had been given. Already New NuUington possessed 
terraces of lodging-houses, built to suit the requirements of visitors, 
and some good houses were springing up year by year. Several 



1 68 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

well-to-do families, who liked " the strong sweet air of the North 
Sea," had taken up their residence there en permanence. 

It was a pleasant walk from New NuUington along the footpath 
by the edge of the cliff, with the wheat-fields on one hand and 
the sea on the other ; when you reached the lighthouse, the cliff 
began to fall away till it became merged in great reaches of 
shifting sand, which stretched southward as far as the eye could 
reach. Here at the junction of cliff and sand was the lifeboat 
station, while a few hundred yards inland, and partly sheltered from 
the colder winds by the sloping shoulder of the cliff, stood the little 
hamlet of Easterby. A few fishermen's cottages, a few labourers' 
huts — and they were little better than huts — an alehouse or two, a 
quaint old church which a congregation of fifty people sufriced to 
fill, and a few better-class houses scattered here and there^ made up 
the whole of Easterby. 

Easterby and New NuUington might be taken as the two points of 
the base of a triangle, with the sea for their background, of which 
the old town formed the apex. The distance of the latter was very 
nearly the same from both places. About half-way between Easterby 
and the old town of NuUington, you came to the lodge which gave 
access to the grounds and Hall of Heron Dyke. 

On the other side of NuUington, on the London road, stood 
Homedale, a pretty modern-built villa, standing in its own grounds, 
the residence of Lady Cleeve and her son Philip. 

Lady Cleeve had not married until late in life, and Philip was her 
only child. She had been the second wife of Sir Gunton Cleeve, a 
baronet of good family but impoverished means. There was a son 
by the first marriage, who had inherited the title and such small 
amount of property as came to him by entail. The present Sir 
Gunton was in the diplomatic service at one of the foreign courts. 
He and his step-mother were on very good terms. Now and then 
he wrote her a cheery little note of a dozen lines, and at odd times 
there came a little present from him, just a token of remembrance, 
which was as much as could be expected from so poor a man. 

Lady Cleeve had brought her husband fifteen thousand pounds in 
all, the half of which only was settled on herself; and her present 
income was but three hundred and fifty pounds a year. The house, 
however, was her own. She kept two women servants, and lived 
of necessity a plain and unostentatious life ; saving ever where she 
could for Philip's sake. That young gentleman, now two-and-twenty 
years old, was not yet in a position to earn a guinea for himself; 
though it was needful that he should dress well and have money to 
spend, for was he not the second son of Sir Gunton Cleeve ? 

For the last two years Philip had been in the ofifice of Mr. Tiplady, 
the one architect of whom NuUington could boast, and who really 
had an extensive and high-class practice. Mr. Tiplady had known 
and respected Lady Cleeve for a great number of years ; and, being 



TJie Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 169 

quite cognisant of her limited means, he had agreed to take Philip 
for a very small premium, but as yet did not pay him any salary. 
The opening was not an unpromising one, there being some prospect 
that Philip might one day succeed to the business, for the architect 
had neither chick nor child. 

Another prospect was also in store for Philip — that he should 
marry Maria Kettle. The Vicar and Lady Cleeve, old and firm 
friends, had somehow come to a tacit notion upon the point years 
ago, when the children were playfellows together ; and Philip and 
Maria understood it perfectly — that they were some day to make a 
match of it. It was not distasteful to either of them. Philip thought 
himself in love with Maria ; perhaps he was so after a fashion ; and 
there could be little doubt that Maria loved Philip with all her heart. 
And though she did not see her way clear to leave the parish as long 
as her father was vicar of it, she did admit to herself in a half- 
conscious way that if, in the far, very far-off future, she could be 
brought to change her condition, it would be for Philip Cleeve. 

Midway between the old town and the new one, was The Lilacs ; 
the pretty cottage ornee of which Captain Lennox and his sister, 
Mrs. Ducie, were the present tenants. The cottage was painted a 
creamy white, and had a verandah covered with trailing plants run- 
ning round three sides of it. It was shut in from the highroad by a 
thick privet hedge and several clumps of tall evergreens. Flower 
borders surrounded the house, in which was shown the perfection 
of ribbon gardening, and the well-kept lawn was big enough for 
Badminton or lawn-tennis. There was no view from the cottage 
beyond its own grounds. It lay rather low, and was perhaps a little 
too much shut in by trees and greenery : all the same, it was a 
charming little place. 

Here, on a certain evening in September, for the weeks have gone 
on, a pleasant little party had met to dine. There was the host, 
Captain Lennox. After him came Lord Camberley, a great magnate 
of the neighbourhood. The third was our old acquaintance, Mr. 
Bootle, with his eye-glass and his little fluffy moustache. Last of 
all came handsome Philip Cleeve, with his brown curly hair and his 
ever-ready smile. The only lady present was Mrs. Ducie. 

Teddy Bootle had run down on a short visit to Nullington, as he 
often did. He and Philip had found Captain Lennox and Lord 
Camberley in the billiard-room of the Rose and Crown Hotel — 
Master Philip being too fond of idling away his hours, and just now 
it was a very slack time at the office. Lennox at once introduced 
Mr. Bootle to his lordship, and he condescended to be gracious to 
the little man, whose income was popularly supposed to be of fab- 
ulous extent. Philip he knew to nod to; but the two were not much 
acquainted. The Captain proposed that they should all go home 
and dine with him at The Lilacs, and he at once scribbled a note to 
his sister, Mrs. Ducie, that she might be prepared for their arrival. 



170 TJie Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

Lord Camberley was a good-looking, slim-built, dark-complexioned 
man of eight-and-twenty. He had a small black moustache, his hair 
was cropped very short, and he was fond of sport as connected with 
the race-course. By his father's death a few months ago he had 
come into a fortune of nine thousand a year. He lived, when in 
the country, at Camberley Park, a grand old Elizabethan mansion 
about five miles from Nullington, where his aunt, the Honourable 
Mrs. Featherstone, kept house for him. 

It was at the billiard-table that he and Lennox had first met. A 
billiard-table is like a sea voyage : it brings people together for a short 
time on a sort of common level, and acquaintanceships spring up 
which under other circumstances would never have had an existence. 
The advantage is that you can drop them again when the game is 
over, or the voyage at an end : though people do not always care to do 
that. In the dull little town of Nullington the occasional society of 
a man like Captain Lennox seemed to Lord Camberley an acquisition 
not to be despised. They had many tastes and sympathies in com- 
mon. The Captain was always well posted up in the state of the 
odds ; in fact, he made a little book of his own on most of the big 
events of the year. There were i^^^' better judges of the points of a 
horse or a dog than he. Then he could be familiar without being 
presuming : Lord Camberley, who never forgot that he was a lord, 
hated people who presumed. Lennox, in fact, was a " deuced nice 
fellow," as he more than once told his aunt. Meanwhile he culti- 
vated his society a good deal : he could always drop him when he 
grew tired of him, and it was his lordship's way to grow tired of 
everybody before long. 

Five minutes after they had assembled Margaret Ducie entered the 
room. Lord Camberley had seen her several times previously, but to 
Bootle and Philip she was a stranger. Her brother introduced them. 
There was perhaps a shade more cordiality in the greeting she 
accorded to Bootle than in the one she vouchsafed to Philip. Cam- 
berley the cynical, who was looking on, and who prided himself, with 
or without cause, on his knowledge of the sex, muttered under his 
breath, " She knows already which is the rich man and which the 
poor clerk. Lennox must have put her up to that." 

Mrs. Ducie was a brunette. She had a great quantity of jet- 
black silky hair and large black liquid eyes. Her nose was thin, 
high-bred, and aquiline, and she rarely spoke without smiling. Her 
figure was tall and somewhat meagre in its outUnes ; but whether she 
sat, or stood, or walked, every movement and every pose was instinct 
with a sort of picturesque and unstudied grace. She dressed very 
quietly, and when abroad her almost invariable wear was a gown of 
some plain black material. But about that simple garment there 
was a style, a fit, a suspicion of something in cut or trimming, in 
the elaboration of a flounce here or the addition of a furbelow there, 
that to the observant mind hinted at the latest Parisian audacity and 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, lyi 

of secrets which as yet were scarcely whispered beyond Mayfair. 
The ladies of NuUington and its neighbourhood could only envy and 
admire and imitate afar off. 

Mrs. Ducie was one of those women whose age it is next to im- 
possible to guess correctly. "She's thirty if she's a day," Lord 
Camberley had said to himself within five minutes of his introduc- 
tion to her. " She can't possibly be more than three-and-twenty," 
was Philip Cleeve's verdict to-day. The truth, in all probability, lay 
somewhere between the two. 

Whatever her age might be, Lord Camberley had a great admira- 
tion for Mrs. Ducie, but it was after a fashion of his own. He was 
thoroughly artificial himself, and rustic beauty, or simplicity, eating 
bread-and-butter in a white frock, had no charms for him. He liked 
a woman who had seen and studied the world of " men and man- 
ners ; " and that Mrs. Ducie had travelled much, and seen many 
phases of life, he was beginning by this time to discover. He was on 
his guard when he first made her acquaintance, lest he might be 
walking into a matrimonial trap, artfully baited by herself and her 
brother, for Lord Camberley was a mark for anxious mothers and 
daughters : not but that he felt himself quite capable of looking after 
his own interests on that point. Still, however wide-awake a man 
may believe himself to be, it is always best to be wary in this crafty 
world ; and very wary he was the first three or four times he visited 
The Lilacs. He was not long, however, in perceiving that, what- 
ever matrimonial designs Margaret Ducie might or might not have 
elsewhere, she was without any as far as he was concerned; and from 
that time he felt at ease in the cottage. 

Captain Lennox's little dinners were thoroughly French in style 
and cookery. They were good without being over elaborate. Cam- 
berley's idea was that the pretty widow, despite her white and delicate 
hands, was oftener in the kitchen than most people imagined. When 
dinner was over the gentlemen adjourned to the verandah to smoke 
their cigars and sip their coffee; while in the drawing-room, the 
French windows of which were open to the garden, lighted only by 
one shaded lamp, Margaret sat and played in a minor key such softly 
languishing airs, chiefly from the old masters, as accorded well with 
the September twilight and the far niente feeling induced by a choice 
dinner. 

Philip Cleeve felt like a man who dreams and is yet awake. Never 
before had he been in the company of a woman like Mrs. Ducie. 
There was a seductive witchery about her, such as he had no previous 
knowledge of. It was not that she took more notice of him than of 
anyone else ; it maybe that she took less ; but he fell under the in- 
fluence of that subtle magnetism, so difficult to define, and yet so 
very evil in its effects, which some women exercise over some men, 
perhaps without any wish or intention on their part of doing so. In 
the case of Philip it was a sort of mental intoxication, delicious and 



1/2 TJie Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

yet with a hidden pain in it, and with a vague underlying sense of un- 
rest and dissatisfaction for which he was altogether unable to account. 

After a time somebody proposed cards — probably it was Camber- 
ley — and as no one objected they all went indoors. 

" What are we going to play ? — whist ?" queried Lennox while the 
servant was arranging the table. 

"Nothing so slow as whist, I hope," said his lordship. " A quiet 
hand at * Nap ' would be more to my taste." 

"How say you, gentlemen? I suppose we all play that vulgar but 
fascinating game?" said the Captain. 

" I know a little of it," answered Bootle. 

" I have only played it once," said Philip. 

" If you have played once, it's as good as having played it a 
thousand times," said Camberley, dogmatically. " I'm not over 
brilliant at cards myself, but I picked up Napoleon in ten minutes." 

"Shilling points, I suppose?" said Lennox. 

Camberley shrugged his shoulders but said nothing, and they all 
sat down. 

There was an arched recess in the room, fitted with an ottoman. 
It was Mrs. Ducie's favourite seat. Here she sat now, engaged 
on some piece of delicate embroidery, looking on, and smiling, and 
giving utterance to an occasional word or two between the deals, but 
not interrupting them. 

Philip Cleeve, notwithstanding that he was less conversant with 
the game than his companions, and that the black eyes of Mrs. Ducie 
would persist in coming between him and his cards — he could see 
her from where he sat, almost without a turn of his head — was very 
fortunate in the early part of the evening, carrying all before him. He 
found himself, at the end of an hour and a half's play, a winner of 
close on three sovereigns ; which to a narrow pocket seems a con- 
siderable sum. 

"This is too sleepy!" cried Camberley at last. " Can't we pile 
up the agony a bit, eh, Lennox ? " 

"I'm in your hands," said the Captain. 

" What say you, Mr. Bootle?" queried his lordship. "Shall we 
turn our shillings into half-crowns ? That will afford a little more 
excitement, eh ? " 

" Then a little more excitement let us have by all means," 
answered good-natured Freddy, who cared not whether he lost or 
won. 

But now Phihp's luck seemed at once to desert him. What with 
the extra wine he had taken, and the glamour cast over him by the 
proximity of Mrs. Ducie, his judgment became entirely at fault. In 
half an hour he had lost back the whole of his earnings ; a little later 
still, his pockets were empty. It is true he only had two sovereigns 
about him at starting, so that his loss was not a heavy one ; but it 
was quite heavy enough for him. He w^as hesitating what he should 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 173 

do next — whether borrow of Bootle or Lennox — when all at once he 
remembered that he had money about him. In the course of the 
day he had collected an account amounting to twenty pounds, due 
to Mr. Tiplady, and it was still in his possession. He felt relieved at 
once. There was a chance of his winning back what he had lost. 
With a hand that shook a little he poured out some wine and 
water at the side table and then sat down to resume his play. 

When the clock on the chimney-piece chimed eleven, Lord Cam- 
berley threw down his cards, saying he would play no more, and 
Philip Cleeve found himself with a solitary half-sovereign left in his 
pocket. 

He got up, feeling stunned and giddy, and stepped out through 
the French window into the verandah. Here he was presently joined 
by the rest. Lennox thrust a cigar into his hand, and they all lighted 
up. The night was sultry ; but after the warmth of the drawing- 
room such fresh air as there was seemed welcome to all of them. 
They went slowly down the main walk of the garden towards the little 
fish-pond at the end, Camberley and Mrs. Ducie, for she had strolled 
out too, being a little behind the others. 

*' I am going to drive my drag to the Agricultural Show at Norwich 
next Tuesday," said his lordship to her. *' Lennox has promised ta 
go. May I ask you if you will honour me with your company on the 
box seat on the occasion ? " 

" Who is going besides yourself and Ferdinand ? " she rejoined. 

" Captain Maudesley, and Pierpoint. Sir John Fenn will probably 
pack himself inside with his gout." 

" But the other ladies — who are they ? " 

" Um — well, to tell you the truth, I had not thought about 
asking any other lady." 

" Ah ! Then, I'm not sure that I should care to go with you. Lord 
Camberley. Five gentlemen and one lady — that would never do." 

'' Let me beg of you to reconsider " 

*' Pray do nothing of the kind. I would rather not." 

" I am awfully sorry," said his lordship in something of a huff. 
*' Confound this cigar ! And confound such old-fashioned prudish 
notions ! " he added to himself. " I'd not have thought it of her." 

She walked back, after saying a pleasant word or two, and fell 
into conversation with Philip Cleeve. He seemed distrait. She 
thought he had taken enough champagne, and felt rather sorry for 
the young fellow. 

"Do you never feel dull, Mrs. Ducie," he asked, "now that you 
have come to live among the sand-hills ? " 

" Oh no. The people I have been introduced to here are all very 
nice and kind ; and then I have my ponies, you know ; and there's 
my music, and my box from Mudie's once a month ; so that I have 
not much time for ennui. My tastes are neither very aesthetic nor 
very elevated, Mr. Cleeve." 



1/4 I'Ji^ Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

" They are at least agreeable ones," answered Philip. 

As Philip Cleeve walked home a war of feelings was at work 
within him, such as he had never experienced before. On the one 
hand there was the loss of Mr. Tiplady's twenty pounds : which 
must be made good to-morrow morning. He turned hot and cold 
when he thought of what he had done. He knew it was wrong, 
dishonourable — what you will. How he came to do it he could not 
tell — ^just as we all say when the apple's eaten and the bitter is 
left. He must ask his mother to make good the loss ; but it would 
never do to tell her the real facts of the case. He should not like 
her to think him dishonourable — and she was not well, and it would 
vex her terribly. He must go to her with some sort of excuse — 
a poor one would do, so utterly unsuspicious was she. This was 
humiliation indeed. He was almost ready to take a vow never to 
touch a card again. Almost ; but not quite. 

On the other hand, his thoughts would fly off to Margaret Ducie 
and her thousand nameless witcheries. There was quite a wild fever 
in his blood when he dwelt on her. It seemed a month since he 
had last seen and spoken with Maria Kettle — Maria, that sweet, pale 
abstraction, who seemed to him to-night so unsubstantial and far 
away. But he did not want to think of her just now. He wanted 
to forget that he was engaged to her, or as good as engaged. Though 
some innate voice of conscience whispered that, if he valued his own 
peace of mind, it would be well for him to keep out of the way of 
the beautiful ignis fatuus which had shone on his path to-night for 
the first time. 

CHAPTER IX. 

THE doctor's verdict. 

It was just about this time that Squire Denison, dining alone, was 
taken ill at the dinner- table. Very rarely indeed was Ella out at 
that hour, but it chanced that she had gone to spend a long evening 
with Lady Cleeve. The Squire's symptoms looked alarming to Aaron 
Stone and his wife ; and the young man, Hubert, went off on horse- 
back to Nullington to summon Dr. Spreckley. 

The Doctor had practised in Nullington all his life. He was a 
man of sixty now, with a fine florid complexion, and a lover of good 
cheer and of whiskey ; though nobody ever saw him the worse for 
what he had taken. He had a cheerful, hearty way with him, that 
to many people was better than all his physic, seeming to think that 
most of the ills of life could be laughed away if his patients would 
only laugh heartily enough. Mr. Denison had great confidence in 
him ; and no wonder, since he had attended him for twenty years. 
Dr. Spreckley was not merely the Squire's medical attendant, but 
news-purveyor-in-general to him as well. Now that the Squire got out 
so little himself and saw so few visitors at the Hall, he looked to 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 175 

Spreckley to keep him au courant with all the gossip anent mutual 
acquaintances and all the local doings for a dozen miles round ; and 
Spreckley was quite equal to the demands upon him. 

During the past year or two, Mr. Denison had experienced 
several of these sudden attacks ; but none of them were so violent as 
was the one this evening. Dr. Spreckley's cheerful face changed 
when he saw the symptoms : and the look, momentary though it was, 
was not lost on the sick man. 

"Where's Ella? "asked the Doctor, somewhat surprised at her 
absence. 

" Miss Ella's gone to Lady Cleeve's for the evening, sir," answered 
Mrs. Stone, who was in attendance. 

" And a good thing too," put in the Squire, rousing himself. 
*' Look here — I won't have her told I've been ill. Do you hear — all 
of you ? No good to worry the lassie." 

Dr. Spreckley administered certain remedies, saw the Squire safely 
into bed, and stayed with him for a couple of hours afterwards, Aaron 
supplying him with a small decanter of whiskey. The symptoms 
were already disappearing, and Dr. Spreckley's face was hopeful. 

" You'll be all right. Squire, after a good night's rest," said he with 
all his hearty cheerfulness. " I'll be over by ten o'clock in the 
morning." 

When Ella returned, as she did at nine o'clock, nothing was 
told her. " The master felt tired, and so went to bed betimes," was 
all Mrs. Stone said. And Ella suspected nothing. 

While she was breakfasting the next morning — her uncle sometimes 
took his alone in his room — Aaron came to her, and said the master 
wanted her. Ella hastened to him. 

" Why ! are you in bed, uncle dear ! " she exclaimed. 

" Ay, felt lazy ; thought I'd have breakfast before I got up. Why 
not ? — Got a mind for a walk this fine morning, lassie ? " 

" Yes, uncle, if you wish me to go anywhere. It is a beautiful 
morning." 

*' So, so ! one should get out this fine weather when one can : wish 
my legs were as young to get over the ground as they used to be. I 
want you to go to the vicarage, child, and take a letter to Kettle that 
I've had here these few days. It's about the votes for the Incurables, 
and it's time it was attended to. Tell him he must see to it for me 
and fill it In. Mind you are with him before ten o'clock, and then 
he'll not be gone out. D'ye hear ? " 

"Yes, uncle. I will be sure to go." 

" And look here, lassie," added the Squire ; " if you like to stay 
the morning with Maria, you can. I sha'n't want you ; I shall be 
pottering about here half the day." 

Having thus cleverly got rid of his niece, the coast was clear 
for Dr. Spreckley. True to his time, the Doctor drove up in his 
ramshackle old gig. 



1/6 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

" You are better this morning ; considerably better," he said to his 
patient after a quiet examination. *' That was a nasty attack, and I 
hope we shant have any more of them for a long time to come." 

" I was worse, Doctor, than even you knew of," said Mr. Denison. 
" The wind of the grave blew colder on me yesterday evening than it 
has ever blown before. Another such bout, and out I shall go, like 
the snuff of a candle. Eh, now, come ? " 

*'We must hope that you won't have another such bout, Squire,*' 
was Dr. Spreckley's cheerful answer. 

" Is there nothing you can prescribe, or do. Doctor, that will 
guarantee me against another such attack ? " asked Mr. Denison 
with almost startling suddenness. 

Dr. Spreckley put down the phial he had taken in his hand, and 
faced his patient. " I should be a knave, Squire, to say that I could 
guarantee you against anything. We can only do our best and hope 
for the best." 

Mr. Denison was silent for a few moments, then he began again. 
*' Look here, Spreckley ; you know how old I am — on the twenty- 
fourth of next April I shall be seventy years old. You know, too, 
what interests are at stake, and how much depends upon my living 
to see that day." 

" I am not likely to forget," said the Doctor. " These are matters 
that we have talked over many a time." 

" Do you believe in your heart, Spreckley, that I shall live to see 
that day — the twenty-fourth of next April ? " The question was put 
very solemnly, and the sick man craned his long neck forward and 
stared at the Doctor with wild hungry eyes, as though his salvation 
depended on the next few words. 

The physician's ruddy cheek lost somewhat of its colour as he hesi- 
tated. He fidgeted nervously with his feet, he coughed behind his 
hand, and then he turned and faced his patient. The signs had not 
been lost on the Squire. 

" Really, my dear sir, your question is a most awkward one,*' 
said Spreckley slowly, *' and one which I am far from feeling sure that 
I am in a position to answer with any degree of accuracy." 

" Words — words — words ! " exclaimed the sick man, turning im- 
patiently on his pillow. ** Man alive ! you can answer my question if 
you choose to do so. All I ask is, do you believe^ do you think in 
your own secret heart, that I shall live to see the twenty-fourth of 
April? You can answer me that." 

" Are you in earnest in wishing for an answer, Mr. Denison ? " 

" Most terribly in earnest. I tell you again that another turn like 
that of last night would finish me. At least, I believe it would. And 
I might have another attack any day or any hour, eh ? " 

" You might. But — but," added the Doctor, striving to soften his 
words, " it might not be so severe, you know." 

" There are several things that I want to do before I go hence and 



Tlie Mysteries of Heron Dyke. lyy 

am seen no more," spoke the Squire in a low tone. " You would not 
advise me to delay doing them ? " 

" I would not advise you, or any man, to delay such." 

" You do not think in your heart that I shall live to see the twenty- 
fourth of April — come now, Spreckley ! " 

The Doctor placed his hand gently on Mr. Denison's wrist, and 
bent forward. " If you must have the truth, you must." 

" Yes, yes," was the eager, impatient interposition. ** The truth — 
the truth." 

*' Well then — these attacks of yours are increasing both in frequency 
and violence. Each one that comes diminishes your reserve of 
strength. One more sharp attack might, and probably would, prove 
fatal to you." 

*' You must ward it off, Spreckley." 

" I don't know how to." 

The Squire lifted his hand slightly, and then let It drop on the 
coverlet again. Was it a gesture of resignation, or of despair ? His 
chin drooped forward on his breast, and there was unbroken silence 
in the room for some moments. 

"Doctor," said Mr. Denison then, and his tones sounded strangely 
hollow, " I will give you five thousand pounds if you can keep me 
alive till the twenty-fifth of April. Five thousand, Spreckley!" 

" All the money in the world cannot prolong life by a single hour 
when our time has come," said the surgeon. " You know that as 
well as I, Mr. Denison. Whatever human skill can do for you shall 
be done ; of that you may rest assured." 

" But still you think I can't last out — eh ? " 

The Doctor took one of his patient's hands and pressed it gently 
between both of his. " My dear old friend, I think that nothing 
5hort of a miracle could prolong your life till then ; " and there was 
an unwonted tremor in his voice as he spoke. 

Nothing more was said. Dr. Spreckley turned to the door, re- 
marking that he would come up again later in the da,y. 

'* There's no necessity," said the Squire, v/ith spirit, as if he took 
the fiat in dudgeon and did not believe it. "No occasion for you to 
come at all, to-day. I am bettev \ much better. I should not have 
stayed in bed this morning, only you ordered me." 

" Very well, Squirg," 

Mr. Denison lay back on his pillows and shut his eyes as the 
door closed on his friend and physician. Aaron Stone, coming into 
■the room a little later, thought his master was asleep, and went out 
without disturbing him. An hour later Mr. Denison's bell rang loudly 
and peremptorily. The Squire was sitting up in bed when Aaron 
entered the room, and the old man marvelled to see him look so 
much better in so short a time. " An hour since he was like a man 
half dead, and now he looks as well as he did a year ago," mxUttered 
Aaron to himself. There was, Indeed, a brightness in his eyes and a 

VOL. XXIX. ^ 



178 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

faint colour in his cheeks, such as had not been seen there for a long 
time ; and his voice had something of its old sharp and peremptory 
tone. 

"Aaron, what do you think Dr. Spreckley has been telling me this 
morning ? " he suddenly asked. 

"I'm a bad hand at guessing. Squire, as you ought to know by this 
time," was the somewhat ungracious answer. 

" He tells me that I shall not live to see the twenty-fourth of next 
April." 

Aaron's rugged face turned as white as it was possible for it to 
turn ; a small tray that he had in his hands fell with a crash to the 
ground. 

"Oh ! master, don't say that — don't say that ! " he groaned. 

" But I must say it : and what's more, I feel it may be true," re- 
turned the Squire. 

"I can't believe it; and I won't," stammered the old servant: who, 
whatever his faults of temper might have been, was passionately 
attached to his master. Aaron had never seriously thought the end 
was so near. The Squire had had these queer attacks ; true : but did 
he not always rally from them and be as well as ever ? Why, look at 
him now ! 

" Spreckley must be a fool, sir, to say such a thing as that ! Had 
he been at the whiskey bottle ? " 

" I forced the truth from him," spoke the Squire. "It is always 
safest to get at the truth, however unpalatable it may be. Eh, now?" 

" I'm fairly dazed," said the old man. " But I don't believe it. 
When you go, master, it will be time for me to go, too." 

" It's not that I'm afraid to go," said the Squire — " when did a 
Denison fear to die ? — and Heaven knows my life has not been such 
a pleasant one of late years that I need greatly care to find the end 
near. It's the property, Aaron — this old roof-tree and all the 
broad acres — you know who will come in for them if I don't live to 
see next April." 

The old serving-man's mouth worked convulsively; he tried to 
speak but could not. Tears streamed down his rugged cheeks. Pre- 
tending to busy himself about the fireplace, he kept his back turned to 
the Squire. 

" If it were not for that, I should not care how soon my summons 
came," continued Mr. Denison; "but it's hard to have the apple 
snatched from you at the moment of victory. I would give half that 
I'm possessed of to anyone who would insure my living to the end of 
next April. Why not ? " 

"What's Spreckley but an old woman? he don't know," said 
Aaron. " Why don't you have some of the big doctors down from 
London, sir? Like enough they could pull you through when 
Spreckley can't." 

The Squire laughed, a little dismally. " You seem to forget that 



\ 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 179 

had a couple of big-wigs down from London on the same errand 
some months ago. They and Spreckley had a consultation, and 
what was the result ? They fully endorsed all that he had done, and 
said that they themselves could not have improved on his method of 
treatment. It would not be an atom of use, old comrade, to have 
them down again. That's my belief." 

It was not Aaron's. He had no particular opinion of Spreckley — 
and he was fearfully anxious. 

"Poor Ella! Poor lassie !" murmured the Squire very gently. "I 
always hoped she would be the mistress of Heron Dyke when I was 

gone. But — but — but " He broke off. He could not speak 

of it. Things just now seemed very bitter, grievously hard to bear. 

" Won't you get up, master ? " 

" Not just now. You can come in by-and-by, Aaron," replied the 
Squire : and Aaron crept out of the room without another word. 

The sitting-room of Aaron Stone and his wife was a homely apart- 
ment, opening from the kitchen. To this he betook himself, shut the 
door behind him, and sat down in silence. Dorothy had her lap full 
of white paper, cutting it out in fringed rounds to cover some pre- 
serves that had been made. Happening to look at her husband, 
she saw the tears trickling fast down his withered cheeks. 

Dorothy's eyes and mouth alike opened. She gazed at him with 
a mixture of curiosity and alarm. Not for twenty years had she 
seen such a sight. Pushing back her silver hair under her neat 
white cap, she dropped the scissors and the paper, and sat staring. 

*' What is it ? " she asked in a faint voice, picturing all kinds 
of unheard-of evils. " Anything happened to the lad, Aaron ? " 

" The lad " was Hubert ; her grandson. He was very dear to 
Dorothy : perhaps not less so to Aaron. Aaron did not answer ; 
could not : and, as if to relieve her fears, Hubert came in the next 
moment. 

" Why, grandfather, what on earth has come to you ? " cried the 
young man, no less astonished than Dorothy. 

With a half sob, Aaron told what had come to them : the 
trouble had taken all his crusty ungraciousness out of him. The 
master was going to die. Spreckley said he could not keep 
him alive until next April. And Miss Ella would have to turn 
out of Heron Dyke to make way for those enemies, the other 
branch. And they should have to turn out too ; and he and 
Dorothy, for all he knew, would die in the workhouse ! 

An astounding revelation. No one spoke for a little while. Then 
Dorothy began with her superstitions. 

" I knew we should have a death in the house before long. 
There's been a winding-sheet in the candle twice this week \ and on 
Sunday night as I came over the marshes three corpse-candles ap- 
peared there and seemed to follow me all the way across. I didn't 
think it would be the Squire, though : I thought of Bolton's wife." 



i8o The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

Bolton was the coachman, and his wife was delicate. 
" Hush, granny ! " reproved Hubert ; '' all that is nonsense, you 
know. Why does not the Squire call in further advice ? " he added 
after a pause. " Spreckley's not good for much save a gossip." 

" I asked him why not," said Aaron; " but he seems to think his 
time is come. If they could only keep him alive till next April, he 
says: that's all he harps upon." 

" And I am sure there must be means of doing it," cried Hubert. 
" What one medical man can't do, another may. I have a great 
mind to call in Dr. Jago — saying nothing about it beforehand. He 
is wonderfully clever." 

" The master might not forgive you, Hubert." 
** But if the new man could prolong his life ! " debated Hubert. 
** I'll think about it," he added, catching up his low-crowned hat. 

He walked across the yard in his well-made shooting-coat that a 
lord might wear, and whistled to one of the dogs. The two house- 
maids stood in what was called the keeping-room, ironing fine things 
at the table underneath the window. They looked after the young 
man with admiring eyes. He held himself aloof from them, as 
a master does from a servant, but the girls liked him, for in manner 
to them he was civil and kind. 

" Is he not handsome ! " cried Ann. " And aren't both the old 
people proud of him ? " 

" What do you think I saw last night ? " said Martha in a low 
tone, as Hubert Stone disappeared through the green door leading to 
the shrubbery. " I was coming home from that errand to Nullington, 
when, out there in the park, hiding behind a tree and peering at our 
windows here, was a grey figure that one might have taken for 
a ghost — poor Susan Keen. She did give me a turn, though." 

" I wonder they don't stop her watching the house at night in the 

way she does," returned Ann, shaking out one of Mrs. Stone's 

muslin caps. " It gives one a creepy feeling to have her watching 

the windows like that — and to know what she's watching for." 

" You know what she says, Ann ! " 

"Yes, I know; and a very uncomfortable thing it is," rejoined 

the younger servant. "If she sees Katherine at the window " 

" She told me again last night that she does see her," interrupted 
the elder; "has seen her three times now, in all. She says that 
Katherine stands at the window of her old room, in the moonlight." 
Ann shook herself; she was nearly as superstitious as old Dorothy. 
" Don't you see what it implies, Martha? If Katherine is seen at 
the window, she must be in the house ; that's all. I wish they'd 
have that north wing barred up ! " 

"You are ironing that net handkerchief all askew, Ann !" 
" One has not got one's proper wits, talking of these ghostly 
things," was Ann's petulant answer, as she lifted the net off the 
blanket with a fling. 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. i8l 

Hubert, meanwhile, was going down to the shore. What he had 
learnt troubled him in no measured degree, and his busy brain was 
hard at work. If only this fiat, which threatened evil to all of them, 
might be averted ! 

The tide was out, and he walked along the sands, flinging his 
stick now and again into the water for the dog to fetch out, as he 
recalled what he had heard about the almost miraculous skill of 
this Dr. Jago ; who was said, nevertheless, to be an unscrupulous man 
in his remedies — kill or cure. Could he keep that life in Mr. 
Denison, which, as it appeared. Dr. Spreckley could not ? These 
bold practitioners were often lucky ones. If Jago 

Hubert Stone halted, both in steps and thought. There flashed 
into his mind, he knew not why, something he had read in an old 
French work, recently bought : for the young fellow was a good 
French scholar. It was a case analogous to Mr. Denison's — where 
a patient had been kept alive, in spite of nature — or almost in spite 
of it. The means tried then, and which were minutely described, 
might answer now. Hubert's breath quickened as he thought of it : 
and for two hours he remained there, revolving this and that. 

A strange look of mingled excitement and determination sat on his 
face when he got back to the Hall. Mrs. Stone lamented to him that 
the dinner was over, meaning their dinner, all cold now. Hubert 
answered that he did not want dinner; but he wanted to see the 
Squire if he were alone. Yes, he was alone ; and he seemed pretty 
well now. And not a word was to be breathed to Miss Ella about 
his illness : those were the strict orders issued. 

When Hubert went in he found the Squire seated in his easy 
chair in front of the fire. He looked very worn and thin, but his 
eyes were as resolute and his lips as firmly set as they had ever been. 

"After what my grandfather told me this morning I could not help 
coming to see you, sir," said Hubert. " This is very sad news ; but 
I hope that it is much exaggerated." 

" There's no exaggeration about it, boy. You see before you, I 
fear, a dying man. Come now ! " 

" I am very, very sorry to hear it." 

'' Ay — ay — good lad, good lad ! Some of you will miss me a bit, eh ? " 

" We shall all miss you very much, Squire : we shall never have 
such a master again. Of course, sir, I know that your great wish all 
along has been to live till your seventieth birthday had come and 
gone. Surely you will live to see that wish fulfilled ! " 

"That's just what I shan't live to see, if Spreckley's right," answered 
the Squire, and his face darkened as he spoke. " For my life I 
care little ; it has been like a flickering candle these few years past. 
It's the knowledge that the estate will go away, from my pretty birdie, 
to a man whom I have hated all my life, that tries me. It is like the 
taste of Dead Sea apples in my mouth." 

Hubert drew his chair a little nearer — for he had been bidden to 



1 82 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

sit. " If you will pardon me, sir, for saying it, I do not think you 
ought to take what Dr. Spreckley says for granted. You should have 
better advice." 

"The London doctors have been down once — and they did me no 
good. They'd not do it now. And there'd be the trouble and ex- 
pense incurred for nothing." 

" I was not thinking of London doctors, sir, but of one nearer 
home — Dr. Jago." 

" Pooh ! They say he is a quack." 

Hubert Stone bent his head, and talked low and earnestly — de- 
scribing what he had heard of Dr. Jago's wonderful skill. " I — I know 
a little of medicine myself, sir," he added; "sometimes I wish I had 
been brought up to it, for I believe I have a natural aptitude for the 
science, and I read medical books, and have been in hospitals ; and 
— and I think, Squire, that a clever practitioner who knows his busi- 
ness could at least keep you alive until next April. Ay, and past it. 
I almost think /could." 

Mr. Denison smiled. The idea of Hubert dabbling in such 
things tickled him. " Well, and how would you set about it ? " he 
demanded, in pleasant mockery. 

Hubert said a few words in a low tone ; his voice seemed to 
grow lower as he continued. He looked strangely in earnest ; his 
face was dark and eager. 

" The lad must be mad — to think he could keep me alive by those 
means ! " interrupted the Squire, staring at Hubert from under his 
shaggy brows, as though he half thought he saw a lunatic before him. 

" If you would only let me finish, sir — only listen while I 
describe the treatment " 

" Pray, did you ever witness the treatment you would describe — 
and see a life prolonged by it ? " 

Without directly answering the question, Hubert resumed the 
argument in his low and eager tones. Gradually the Squire grew 
interested — perhaps almost unto belief. 

" And you could — could doctor me up in this manner, you 
think ! " he exclaimed, lifting his hand and letting it drop again. " Boy, 
you almost take my breath away." 

" Perhaps I could not, sir. But I say Dr. Jago might." 

Squire Denison sat thinking, his head bent down. " Do you 
know this Dr. Jago ?" he presently asked. " Have you met him ? " 

" Once or twice, sir. And I was struck with an impression of 
his inward power." 

" Well, I — I will see him," decided the Squire. " And if he 
thinks he can — can .keep life in me, I will make it worth his while. 
Why, lad, I'd give half my fortune, nearly, to be able to will away 
Heron Dyke out of the clutches of those harpies, who look to 
inherit it, and who have kept their spies about us here. You may 
bring this new doctor to me." 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 183 

A glad light came into Hubert's face : he was at least as anxious 
as his master that Heron Dyke should not pass to strangers. 

** Shall I bring him to-morrow, sir ? " 

** Ay, to-morrow. Why not? Spreckley will be here at ten; let 
the other come at noon. But look you here, lad : not a word to 
him beforehand about this idea of yours, this new — new treatment. 
I'll see him first." 

The clock was striking twelve the following day when Dr. Jago 
rang at the door of the hall. He was a little, dark-featured, foreign- 
looking man of thirty, with a black moustache and a pointed beard, 
and small restless eyes that seemed never to look steadfastly at any- 
thing or anybody, imparting an impression of being always on his 
guard. He had come to Nullington about a year ago, a stranger to 
everyone in it, and had started there in practice. His charges 
were low, and his patients chiefly those who could not afford 
to pay much in the shape of doctors' bills. But Dr. Spreckley 
was an elderly man, and Dr. Downes might be considered an 
old man, so there was no knowing what might happen in the 
course of a few years. Meanwhile Theophilus Jago possessed 
his soul in patience and made ends meet as best he could. It 
was a great event in his life to be sent for by the master of Heron 
Dyke. 

" You are Dr. Jago, I think ? " began the Squire^ who was again 
in bed ; and the Doctor bowed assent. 

" I and my medical attendant. Dr. Spreckley, have had a slight 
difference of opinion. In all probability he will not visit me again, 
and I have sent for you in the hope that we may get on better 
together than Spreckley and I did." 

" I am flattered by your preference, sir. You may rely upon my 
doing my best to serve you in every way." 

" Probably you may have heard that I have been ill for a long 
time : people will talk : and, as a medical man, you most likely are 
aware of the nature of my complaint ? " 

Dr. Jago admitted this. 

" I had a bad attack two days ago. Yesterday I asked Spreckley 
whether I should last over the twenty-fourth of next April. He told 
me that I could do so only by a miracle. He says I can't live, and 
I say that I must and will live over the date in question." 

" And you have sent for me to — to ? " 

*'To keep me alive. Spreckley can't do it. You must. Now, 
don't say another word till you have examined me." 

Not another word did Dr. Jago utter for a quarter of an hour, beyond 
asking certain questions in connection with the malady. This over, 
he sat down by the bedside and drew a long breath. 

"Well, what's the verdict? Out with it," added the Squire 
grimly, the old hungry, wistful look rising in his eyes. 



184 Th^ Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

" I suppose you want to hear the truth and nothing but the truth, 
Mr. Denii3on ? " said Dr. Jago. 

" That is precisely what I do want to hear. Why not ? " 

" Then, sir, I think it most probable that Dr. Spreckley is correct. 
I fear I can only confirm his opinion." 

There was a moment or two of silence. " Then you say, with him, 
that I shall not live to see the twenty-fourth of April ? " 

" There is, of course, a possibility that you may do so," replied Dr. 
Jago, ''but the probabilities are all the other way. I am very sorry, 
sir, to have to tell you this." 

" Keep your sorrow until you are asked for it," returned the Squire, 
drily. " Perhaps you will pour me out half a glass of that Madeira. 
I am not so strong as I should like to be." 

Dr. Jago did as he was requested, and then sat down and waited. 
Turning on him with startling suddenness, the sick man seized him 
by the wrist with a grip of iron, to pull him closer, and spoke with 
a grim earnestness. 

" Look here, Jago, it's not of any use your telling me, or a thou- 
sand other doctors, that I shall not live to see April. I must and 
will live till then, and you must sec that I do : you must keep me 
in life. Man ! you stare as if I were asking you to kill me, instead 
of to cure me." 

Dr. Jago tried to smile. He evidently doubted whether he had 
to deal with a lunatic. ''Pardon me, Mr. Denison," he said, "but 
in your condition you must avoid excitement. Perfect quiet is your 
greatest safeguard." 

The sick man shrugged his shoulders. " Well, well, you are per- 
haps right. You know my young secretary — Hubert Stone ? " 

"A little." 

"And I daresay you think him a shrewd, clever young fellow, eh! 
But he is more clever than you think for, and has dabbled in 
many a curious science, ; medicine, for one. He — listen, Mr, Phy- 
sician — he has suggested a mode of treatment by which he believes I 
may be kept alive. Com^ now ! " 

Dr. Jago's face expressed a mixture of surprise and incredulity not 
unmingled with sarcasm. Mr. Hubert Stone would indeed be a 
very clever gentleman if he could keep life in a dying man. 

"/do not know of any such treatment, Mr. Denison," 

" Possibly not. But I suppose you are open to learn it ? " 

" If it can be taught me." 

"Well, you go into the next room. Hubert is there, I believe, 
and will explain it to you better than I can. I never bothered my 
head about physics. When the conference is over, come back to me." 

Half an hour had elapsed ; quite that ; and the Squire was growing 
impatient, when Dr. Jago returned. He was looking very grave. 

"Will the treatment answer?" he cried out impatiently, before 
the Doctor could speak. 



\ 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 185 

" It might answer, Mr. Denison ; I do not say it would not. But 
— it is dangerous." 

"And what if it is dangerous ? I am willing to risk it — and I shall 
pay you well. What, you hesitate ? Why, I have heard say that 
dangerous remedies are not unknown to you ; that with you it is 
sometimes kill or cure." 

" In a hopeless case possibly. Not otherwise." 
"And have you not just told me mine is hopeless ? " 
"True." 

" Then you will take me in hand. Dear me ! — if I were telling 
you to give me a dose of prussic acid as you stand there, you could 
but look as you are looking. See here. Listen. I will have these 
— these remedies tried, young man, and by you. I know your skill. 
I give you five hundred pounds at once ; and I make it up to two 
thousand if you carry me over to the twenty-fifth of April." 

" I accept the terms," said Dr. Jago, awaking from a reverie, and 
speaking with prompt decision now his mind was made up. To a 
struggling practitioner the money looked like a mine of gold : and 
perhaps Squire Denison's imperative will influenced his. " And I 
hope and trust I shall be able to carry you over the necessary 
period," he added with intense earnestness. " My best endeavours 
shall be devoted to it." 

Outside the door Hubert Stone was waiting, anxiety in his eyes. 
"Yes, I have consented," said Dr. Jago, in answer to their silent 
questioning. " If we succeed — well. But I cannot forget the risk. 
And these hazardous risks, if they be discovered, are fatal to the 
reputation of a professional man." 

" Take the book home with you, and study the case well," said 
Hubert, putting a volume in the Doctor's hand. "Some little risk there 
must of course be, but I think not much. It succeeded there : why 
should it not succeed with Squire Denison ?" 

That evening Dr. Spreckley received a letter, written by Hubert 
Stone in his master's name, dismissing him from further attendance at 
Heron Dyke. The Squire added a kind message and enclosed a 
cheque ; but he very unmistakably hinted that Dr. Spreckley was not 
expected to call again, even as a friend. Two doctors who held 
opposing views, and who pursued totally opposite modes of treatment, 
had best not come into contact with each other. 

(To be continued. ) 



1 86 



I 



CREWEL-WORK. 

The border of blossoms and fruit and flow'rs 

Grows under the skilful hand, 
And butterflies flutter among the leaves, 

While birds of a tropic land 
Perch on the boughs of fantastic trees — 

Themselves a fantastic band. 

The soft blues melt into softer greys, 

And the grey is lost in the green, 
A silken thread crosses with fairy toot 

Its homelier rivals between, 
As a gay Cinderella, e'er stroke of twelve, 

In her jewels and beauty's sheen. 

The purples and fawns and delicate pinks 

Are flushed by a crimson ray. 
And a golden streak glimmers out here and there. 

Like a sunbeam in wanton play 
E'er its statelier comrades have marched in sight 

To cheer the t^vilight away. 

And the lady bends over her dainty work, 

A dreamy smile on her face, 
Thinking of days buried deep in the past, 

While her dext'rous fingers trace 
Forms copied from ancient tapestry, full 

Of nice and whimsical grace. 

Thinking, perchance, of those war-like times 

When ladies lived in their bow'rs. 
Shut out from the stirring world beyond, 

Shut in with their music and flow'rs, 
Contenting themselves with needle and lute 

Through all the languid hours : 

When the highest art the maiden knew 

Was cunningly to pourtray. 
In broidered figure, the chivalrous deeds 

Of battle or tournament gay. 
And border the same with some quaint device 

Of formal tendril and spray : 

When the tale of daring which sounded so sweet 

As it fell from her lover's tongue, 
Or the touching ballad of love and death 

Which her little page had sung. 
Might repeat itself on her chamber walls 

Where the costly arras hung. 



Crewel-Work, 187 

"Were those happier days," the lady asks, 

In a pause of her pleasant dream, 
" Than these modem days of excitement and haste, 

Cheap literature, gas, and steam ; 
When women may brave the world alone, 

And ' Advance ' is the thought supreme ? " 

When only a passing hour, now and then, 

Can be snatched from the busy day 
To play with the crewels heaped on her lap, 

And indulge in phantasy ; 
When adventures no longer wait to be told 

Of crusader or mock-affray : 

But chase, and battle, and foreign tour 

Are followed by line and rule ; 
And the noble thought is left unsaid 

In the fear of ridicule. 
And the generous impulse sternly checked 

In fashion's frigid school. 

" Is it better so ? — Is it gain or loss ? " 

She asks with a pensive sigh : 
And still the balance sways up and down. 

And still there is no reply ; 
Till at last a whisper sounds in her soul — 

"We are born, and then we die. 

*' All things must change in this life of ours 

As we pass to the life supreme ; 
And still what is good is left behind ; 

And still, like a struggling beam. 
Good shines out to-day, if but we discern 

What is, not what it would seejn. 

" If, through the crust and varnish, we pierce 

To the beating heart below, 
We shall find the self-same spirit there 

As in ages long ago ; 
And own that even these common-place times 

May have the heroic to show. 

"Aye, the 'golden year,' as the poet sings. 

Is for ever at the door ; 
And so our part must always be 

To garner the precious store — 
To add to the treasures the past has brought, 

From the present, still more and more." 

Emma Rhodes. 



i88 



VERENA FONTAINE'S REBELLION. 

THE dwellings in Ship Street, Tower Hill, may be regarded as 
desirable residences by the young merchant-seamen whose 
vessels are lying in the neighbouring docks, but they certainly do 
not possess much attraction for the general eye. 

Seated in Edward Pym's parlour, the features of the room gradually 
impressed themselves upon my mind, and they remain there still. 
They would have remained, I think, without the dreadful tragedy 
that was so soon to take place in it. It was weary work waiting. 
Captain Tanerton, tired with his long and busy day, was nodding 
asleep in the opposite chair, and I had nothing to do but look 
about me. 

It was a small room, rather shabby, the paper of a greenish cast, 
the faded carpet originally red : and the bed-room behind, as much 
as could be seen of it through the half-open door, looked smaller 
and poorer. The chairs were horsehair, the small table in the 
middle had a purple cloth on it, on which stood the lamp, that the 
landlady had just lighted. A carved ivory ornament, representing 
a procession of priests and singers, probably a present to Mrs. Rich- 
enough from some merchant-captain, stood under a glass shade on 
a bracket against the wall ; the mantelpiece was garnished with 
a looking-glass and some china shepherds and shepherdesses. A 
monkey-jacket of Pym's lay across the back of a chair ; some books 
and his small desk were on the chiffonier. In the rooms above, 
as we learnt later, lodged a friend of Pym's, one Alfred Saxby, who 
was looking out for a third mate's berth. 

At last Pym came in. Uncommonly surprised he seemed to see 
us sitting there, but not at all put out : he thought the Captain 
had come down on some business connected with the ship. Jack 
quietly opened the ball ; saying what he had to say. 

"Yes, sir, I do know where Miss Verena Fontaine is, but I 
decline to say," was Pym's answer when he had listened. 

" No, sir, nothing will induce me to say," he added to further 
remonstrance, " and you cannot compel me. I am under your 
authority at sea. Captain Tanerton, but I am not on shore — and not 
at all in regard to my private affairs. Miss Verena Fontaine is 
under the protection of friends, and that is quite enough." 

Enough or not enough, this was the utmost we could get from him. 
His captain talked, and he talked, each of them in a civilly-cold 
way ; but nothing more satisfactory came of it. Pym wound up by 
saying the young lady was his cousin and he could take care of her 
without being interfered with. 



Vereiia Fontaine's Rehellio7t. 189 

" Do you trust him, Johnny Ludlow ? " asked Jack, as we came 
away. 

" I don't trust him on the whole ; not a bit of it. But he seems 
to speak truth in saying she is with friends." 

And, as the days went on, bringing no tidings of Verena, Sir 
Dace Fontaine grew angry as a raging tiger. 

When a ship is going out of dock, she is more coquettish than 
a beauty in her teens. Not in herself, but in her movements. 
Advertised to sail to-day, you will be told she'll not start until 
to-morrow ; and when to-morrow comes the departure will be put off 
until the next day, perhaps to the next week. 

Thus it was with the Rose of DelJii. From some uncompromising 
exigencies, whether connected with the cargo, the crew, the brokers, 
or any other of the unknown mysteries pertaining to ships, the day that 
was to have witnessed her departure — Thursday — did not witness it. 
The brokers. Freeman and Co., let it transpire on board that she 
would go out of dock the next morning. About mid-day Captain 
Tanerton presented himself at their office in Eastcheap. 

" I shall not sail to-morrow — with your permission," said he to 
Mr. James Freeman. 

" Yes, you will — if she's ready," returned the broker. " Gould 
says she will be." 

*' Gould may think so ; I do not. But, whether she be ready or 
not, Mr. Freeman, I don't intend to take her out to-morrow." 

.The words might be decisive words, but the Captain's tone was 
genial as he spoke them, and his frank, pleasant smile sat on his face. 
Mr. Freeman looked at him. They valued Captain Tanerton as they 
perhaps valued no other master in their employ, these brothers 
Freeman ; but James had a temper that was especially happy in 
contradiction. 

" I suppose you'd like to say that you won't go out on a Friday ! " 
" That's just it," said Jack. 

" You are superstitious, Captain Tanerton," mocked the broker. 
" I am not," answered Jack. " But I sail with those who are. 
Sailors are more foolish on this point than you can imagine : and I 
believe — I believe in my conscience — that ships, sailing on a Friday, 
have come to grief through their crew losing heart. No matter what 
impediment is met with — bad weather, accidents, what not — the men 
say at once it's of no use, we sailed on a Friday. They lose their 
spirit, and their energy with it ; and I say, Mr. Freeman, that vessels 
have been lost through this, which might have otherwise been saved. 
I will not go out of dock to-morrow ; and I refuse to do it in your 
interest as much as in my own." 

" Oh, bother," was all James Freeman rejoined. " You'll have to 
go if she's ready." 

But the words made an impression. James Freeman knew what 
sailors were nearly as well as Jack knew : and he could not help 



IQO Verena Fcntaines Rebellion. 

recalling to memory that beautiful ship of Freeman Brothers, the 
Lily of Japan. The Lily had been lost only six months ago ; and 
those of her crew, who were saved, religiously stuck to it that the 
calamity was brought about through having sailed on a Friday. 

The present question did not come to an issue. For, on the 
Friday morning, the Rose of Delhi \\2is not ready for sea ; would not be 
ready that day. On the Saturday morning she was not ready either ; 
and it was finally decided that Monday should be the day of de- 
parture. On the Saturday afternoon Captain Tanerton ran down to 
Timberdale for four-and-twenty hours; Squire Todhetley, his visit 
to London over, travelling down by the same train. 

Verena Fontaine had not yet turned up, and Sir Dace was nearly 
crazy. Not only was he angry at being thwarted, but one 
absorbing, special fear lay upon him — that she would come back a 
married woman. Pym was capable of any sin, he told the Squire 
and Coralie, even of buying the wedding-ring ; and Verena was 
capable of letting it be put on her finger. " No papa," dissented 
Coralie in her equable manner, " Vera is too fond of money and of 
the good things money buys, to risk the loss of the best part of her 
fortune. She will not marry Pym until she is of age ; be sure of 
that. When he has sailed she will come home safe and sound, and 
tell us where she has been." 

Captain Tanerton went down, I say, to Timberdale. He stayed 
at the rectory with his wife and brother until the Sunday afternoon, 
and then returned to London. The Rose of Delhi was positively 
going out on Monday, so he had to be back — and, I may as well say 
here, that Jack, good-natured Jack, had invited me to go in her as 
far as Gravesend. 

During that brief stay at Timberdale, Jack was not in his usual 
spirits. His wife, Alice, noticed it, and asked him whether anything 
was the matter. Not anything whatever. Jack readily answered. In 
truth there was not. At least, anything he could talk of. A weight 
lay on his spirits, and he could not account for it. The strong 
instinct, which had seemed to warn him against sailing with Pym 
again, had gradually left him since he knew that Pym was to sail, 
whether or not. In striving to make the best of it, he had thrown off 
the feeling : and the unaccountable depression that weighed him down 
could not arise from that cause. It was a strange thing altogether, 
this ; one that never, in all his life, had he had any experience of ; 
but it was not less strange than true. 

Monday. The Rose of Delhi lay in her place in the freshness of 
the sunny morning, makmg ready to go out of dock with the in- 
coming tide. I went on board betimes : and I thought I had never 
been in such a bustling scene before. The sailors knew what they 
were about, I conclude, but to me it seemed all confusion. The 
Captain I could not see anywhere ; but his chief offic'er, Pym, 



Verena Fontaine s Rebellion. 191 

seemed to be more busy than a certain common enemy of ours is 
said to be in a gale of wind. 

" Is the Captain not on board ? " I asked of Mark Ferrar, as he 
was whisking past me on deck. 

" Oh no, sir ; not yet. The Captain will not come on board till 
the last moment — if he does then." 

The words took me by surprise. " What do you mean, by saying 
'If he does then'?" 

" He has so much to do, sir ; he is at the office now, signing the 
bills of lading. If he can't get done in time he will join at Graves- 
end when we take on some passengers. The Captain is not wanted 
on board when we are going out of dock, Mr. Johnny," added Ferrar, 
seeing my perplexed look. *' The river-pilot takes the ship out." 

He pointed to the latter personage, just then making his appearance 
on deck. I wondered whether all river-pilots were like him. He was 
broad enough to make two ordinarily stout people ; and his voice, 
from long continuous shouting, had become nothing less than a 
raven's croak. 

At the last moment, when the ship was getting away, and I had 
given the captain up, he came on board. How glad I was to see his 
handsome, kindly face ! 

"I've had a squeak for it, Johnny," he laughed, as he shook my 
hand : " but I meant to go down with you if I could." 

Then came all the noise and stir of getting away : the croaking of 
the pilot alone distinguishable to my uninitiated ears. ** Slack away 
the stern-line " — he called it starn. "Haul in head-rope." "Here 
carpenter, bear a hand, get the cork-fender over the quarter-gallery." 
" What are you doing aft there ? — why don't you slack away that 
stern-line ? " Every other moment it seemed to me that we were going 
to pitch into the craft in the pool, or they into us. However, we got 
on without mishap. 

Captain Tanerton was crossing the ship, after holding a confab 
with the pilot, when a young man, whom he did not recognize, 
stepped aside out of his way, and touched his cap. The Captain 
looked surprised, for the badge on the cap was the one worn by his 
own officers. 

" Who are you ? " he asked. 

" Mr. Saxby, if you please, sir." 

" Mr. Saxby ! What do you do here ? " 

" Third mate, if you please, sir," repeated the young man. " Your 
third mate, Mr. Jones, met with an accident yesterday ; he broke his 
leg ; and my friend, Pym, spoke of me to Mr. Gould." 

Captain Tanerton was not only surprised, but vexed. First, for 
the accident to Jones, who was a very decent young fellow ; next, at 
his being superseded by a stranger, and a friend of Pym's. He put 
a few questions, found the new man's papers were in order, and so 
made the best of it. 



192 Vei'ena Fontaine s Rebellion. \ 

" You will find me a good and considerate master, Mr. Saxby, if 
you do your duty with a will," he said in a kind tone. 

" I hope I shall, sir ; I'll try to," answered the young man. 

On we went swimmingly, in the wake of the tug-boat ; but this 
desirable tranquillity was erelong destined to be marred. 

On coming up from the state-room, as they called it, after regaling 
ourselves on a cold collation, the Captain was pointing out to me 
something on shore, when one of the crew approached hastily, and 
touched his cap. I found it was the carpenter : a steady-looking 
man, who was fresh to the ship, having joined her half an hour 
before starting. 

" Beg pardon, sir," he began. "Might I ask you when this ship 
was pumped out last ? " 

*' Why, she is never pumped out," replied the Captain. 

*'Well, sir," returned the man, " it came into my head just now to 
sound her, and I find there's two feet of water in the hold." 

"Nonsense," said Jack: "you must be mistaken. Why, she 
has never made a cupful of water since she was built. We have to 
put water in her to keep her sweet." 

" Anyway, sir, there's two feet o' water in her now." 

The Captain looked at the man steadily for a moment, and then 
thought it might be as well to verify the assertion — or the contrary — 
himself, being a practical man. Taking the sounding-rod from the 
carpenter's hand, he wiped it dry with an old bag lying near, and 
then proceeded to sound the well. Quite true : there were two feet 
of water. No time lost he. Ordering the carpenter to rig the 
pumps, he called all hands to man them. 

For a quarter of an hour, or twenty minutes, the pumps were 
worked without intermission ; then the Captain sounded, as before, 
doing it himself. There was no diminution of water — it stood at 
the same level as before pumping. Upon that, he and the carpenter 
went down into the hold, to listen along the ship's sides, and dis- 
cover, if they could, where the water was coming in. Five minutes 
later. Jack was on deck again, his face grave. 

" It is coming in abreast of the main hatchway on the starboard 
side; we can hear it distinctly," he said to the pilot. "I must 
order the ship back again : I think it right to do so." And the 
broad pilot, who seemed a very taciturn pilot, made no demur to 
this, except a grunt. So the tug-boat was ordered to turn round and 
tow us back again. 

" Where's Mr. Pym ? " cried the Captain. " Mr. Pym ! " 
" Mr. Pym's in the cabin, sir," said the steward, who chanced to 
be passing. 

" In the cabin ! " echoed Jack, in an accent that seemed to imply 
the cabin was not Mr. Pym's proper place just then. " Send him to 
me if you please, steward." 

"Yes, sir," replied the steward. But he did not obey with the 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 193 

readiness exacted on board ship. He hesitated, as if wanting to say 
something before turning away. 

No Pym came. Jack grew impatient, and called out an order or 
two. Young Saxby came up, touching his cap, according to rule. 

" Do you want me, sir ? " 

" I want Mr, Pym. He is below. Ask him to come to me 
instantly." 

It brought forth Pym. Jack's head was turned away for a moment, 
and I saw what he did not. That Pym had a fiery face, and walked 
as if his limbs were slipping from under him. 

" Oh, you are here at last, Mr. Pym — did you not receive my first 
message? " cried Jack, turning round. " The cargo must be broken 
out to find the place of leakage. See about it smartly : there's no 
time to waste." 

Pym had caught hold of something at hand to enable him to stand 
steady. He had lost his wits, that was certain ; for he stuttered out 
an answer to the effect that the cargo might be — hanged. 

The Captain saw his state then. Feeling a need of renovation 
possibly, after his morning's exertions, Mr. Pym had been making 
free, a great deal too much so, with the bottled ale below, and had 
finished up with brandy-and-water. 

The cargo might be hanged ! 

Captain Tanerton, his brow darkening, spoke a sharp, short, stern 
reprimand, and ordered Mr. Pym to his cabin. 

What could have possessed Pym, unless it might be the spirit that 
was in the brandy, nobody knew. He refused to obey, broke into 
open defiance, and gave Captain Tanerton sauce to his face. 

" Take him below," said the Captain quietly, to those who were 
standing round. " Mr. Ferrar, you will lock Mr. Pym's cabin door, 
if you please, and bring me the key." 

This was done, and Mr. Pym encaged. He kicked at his cabin 
door, and shook it ; but he could not escape : he was a prisoner. 
He swore for a little while at the top of his voice ; then he com- 
menced some uproarious singing, and finally fell on his bed and 
went to sleep. 

Hands were set to work to break out the cargo, which they piled 
on deck ; and the source of the leakage was discovered. It seemed 
a slight thing, after all, to have caused so much commotion — nothing 
but an old treenail that had not been properly plugged-up. I said 
so to Ferrar. 

" Ah, Mr. Johnny," was Ferrar's answering remark, his face and 
tone strangely serious, " slight as it may seem to you, it might have 
sunk us all this night, had we chanced to anchor off Gravesend." 



VOL. XXIX. o 



X94 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

II. 

What with the pumps, that were kept at work, and the shifting of 
the cargo, and the hammering they made in stopping up the leak, 
we had enough to do this time. And about half-past three o'clock 
in the afternoon the brave ship, which had gone out so proudly 
with the tide, got back ignominiously with the end of it, and 
came to an anchor outside the graving-dock, there not being suffi- 
cient water to allow of her entering it. The damage was already 
three-parts repaired, and the ship would make her final start on the 
morrow. 

" 'Twas nothing but a good Providence could have put it into my 
head to sound the ship, sir," remarked the carpenter, wiping his hot 
face, as he came on deck for something or other he needed. *' But 
for that, we might none of us have seen the morning's sun." 

Jack nodded. These special interpositions of God's good care 
are not rare, though we do not always recognise them. And yet, 
but for that return back, the miserable calamity so soon to fall, would 
not have had the chance to take place. 

Captain Tanerton caused himself to be rowed ashore, first of all 
ordering the door of his prisoner to be unfastened. I got into the 
waterman's wherry with him, for I had nothing to stay on board for. 
And a fine ending it was to my day's pleasuring ! 

" Never mind, Johnny," he said, as we parted. " You can come 
with us again to-morrow, and I hope we shall have a more lucky 
start." 

Captain Tanerton went straight to the brokers', saw Mr. James 
Freeman, and told him he would 7iot take out Edward Pym. If 
he did, the man's fate would probably be that of irons from Graves- 
end to Calcutta. 

And James Freeman, a thorough foe to brandy-and-water when 
taken at wrong times, listened to reason, and gave not a word of 
dissent. He there and then made Ferrar chief mate, and put 
another one second in Ferrar's place ; a likely young man in their 
employ who was waiting for a berth. This perfectly satisfied Captain 
Tanerton, under the circumstances. 

The Captain was then rowed back to his ship. By that time it was 
five o'clock. He told Ferrar of the change ; who thanked him 
heartily, a glow of satisfaction rising to his honest face. 

"Where's Pym?" asked the Captain. "He must take his things 
out of the ship." 

" Pym is not on board, sir. Soon after you left, he came up and 
went ashore : he seemed to have pretty nearly slept off the drink. 
Sir Dace Fontaine is below," added Ferrar, dropping his voice. 

" Sir Dace Fontaine ! Does he want me ? " 

" He wanted Mr. Pym, sir. He has been looking into every part 
of the ship : he is looking still. He fancies his daughter is con- 
cealed on board." 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 195 

" Oh nonsense ! " cried the Captain ; " he can't fancy that. As if 
Miss Fontaine v/ould come down here — and board ships ! " 

"She was on board yesterday, sir." 

" What ! " cried the Captain. 

" Mr. Pym brought her on board yesterday afternoon, sir," con- 
tinued Ferrar, his voice as low as it could well go. " He was 
showing her about the ship." 

" How do you know this, Mr. Ferrar ? " 

*' I was here, sir. Expecting to sail last week, I sent my traps on 
board. Yesterday, wanting a memorandum-book out of my desk, I 
came down for it. That's how I saw them." 

Captain Tanerton, walking forward to meet Sir Dace, knitted his 
brow. Was Mr. Pym drawing the careless, light-headed girl into 
mischief? Sir Dace evidently thought so. 

'* I tell you. Captain Tanerton, she is quite likely to be on board, 
concealed as a stow-away," persisted Sir Dace, in answer to the Cap- 
tain's assurance that Verena was not, and could not be in the ship. 
"When you are safe away from land, she will come out of hiding 
and they will declare their marriage. That they are married, is only 
too likely. He brought her on board yesterday afternoon when the 
ship was lying in St. Katharine's Dock." 

" Do you know that he did ? " cried Jack, wondering whence Sir 
Dace got his information. 

" I am told so. As I got up your ladder just now I enquired of 
the first man I saw, whether a young lady was on board. He said 
no, but that a young lady had come on board with Mr. Pym yester- 
day afternoon to see the ship. The man was your ship-keeper in 
dock." 

" How did you hear we had got back to-day. Sir Dace ? " 

" I came down this afternoon to search the ship before she sailed 
— I was under a misapprehension as to the time of her going out. 
The first thing I heard was, that the Rose of Delhi had gone and had 
come back again. Pym is capable, I say, of taking Verena out." 

"You may be easy on this point. Sir Dace," returned Jack. 
" Pym does not go out in the ship : he is superseded." And he 
gave the heads of what had occurred. 

It did not tend so please Sir Dace. Edward Pym on the high 
seas would be a less formidable adversary than Edward Pym on 
land : and perhaps in his heart of hearts Sir Dace did not really 
believe his daughter would become a stow-away. 

"Won't you help me to find her ? to save her?" gasped Sir Dace, 
in pitiful entreaty. " With this change — Pym not going out — I 
know not what trouble he may not draw her into. Coralie says 
Verena is not married ; but I — Heaven help me ! I knov/ not what 
to think. I must find Pym this night and watch his movements, 
and find her if I can. You must help me." 

" I will help you," said warm-hearted Jack — and he clasped hands 



196 Vcrena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

upon it. " I will undertake to find Pym. And, that your daughter 
is not on board, Sir Dace, I pass you my word." 

Sir Dace stepped into the wherry again, to be rowed ashore and 
get home to his dinner — ordered that evening for six o'clock. In a 
short while Jack also quitted the ship, and went to Pym's lodgings 
in Ship Street. Pym was not there. 

Mr. Pym had come in that afternoon, said his landlady, Mrs. 
Richenough, and startled her out of her seven senses ; for, knowing 
the ship had left with the day's tide, she had supposed Mr. Pym to 
be then off Gravesend, or thereabouts. He told her the ship had 
sprung a leak and put back again. Mr. Pym had gone out, she 
added, after drinking a potful of strong tea. 

" To sober him," thought the Captain. " Do you expect him back 
to sleep, Mrs. Richenough ? " 

"Yes, I do, sir. I took the sheets off his bed this morning, and 
I've just been and put 'em on again. Mr. Saxby's must be put on 
too, for he looked in to say he should sleep here." 

Where to search for Pym, Jack did not know. Possibly he might 
have gone back to the ship to offer an apology, now that he was 
sobered. Jack was bending his steps towards it when he met 
Ferrar : who told him Pym had not gone back. 

Jack put on his considering-cap. He hardly knew what to do, or 
how to find the fugitives : with Sir Dace, he deemed it highly 
necessary that Verena should be found. 

"Have you anything particular to do to-night, Mr. Ferrar?" he 
suddenly asked. And Ferrar said he had not. 

" Then," continued the Captain, " I wish you would search for 
Pym." And, knowing Ferrar was thoroughly trustworthy, he whis- 
pered a few confidential words of Sir Dace Fontaine's fear and 
trouble. "I am going to look for him myself," added Jack, "though 
I'm sure I don't know in what quarter. If you do come across him, 
keep him within view. You can tell him also that his place on the 
Rose of Delhi is filled up, and he must take his things out of her." 

Altogether that had been a somewhat momentous day for Mr. 
Alfred Saxby — and its events for him were not over yet. He had 
been appointed to a good ship, and the ship had made a false start, 
and was back again. An uncle and aunt of his lived at Clapham, 
and he thought he could not do better than go down there and 
regale them with the news : we all naturally burn to impart marvels 
to the world, you know. However, when he reached his relatives' 
residence, he found they were out ; and not long after nine o'clock 
he was back at Mrs. Richenough's. 

" Is Mr. Pym in ? " he asked of the landlady ; who came forward 
rubbing her eyes as though she were sleepy, and gave him his 
candle. 

" Oh, he have been in some little time, sir. And a fine row he*s 



Verena Fontaine'' s Rebellion. 197 

been having with his skipper," added Mrs. Richenough, who some- 
times came off the high ropes of politeness when she had disposed 
of her supper beer. 

** A row, has he !" returned Saxby. " Does not like to have been 
superseded," he added to himself. *' I must say Pym was a fool to- 
day — to go and drink, as he did, and to sauce the master." 

" Screeching out at one another like mad, they've been," pursued 
Mrs. Richenough. " He do talk stern, that skipper, for a young 
man and a good-looking one." 

" Is the Captain in there now ? " 

" For all I know : I did think I heard the door shut, but it might 
have been my fancy. Good-night, sir. Pleasant dreams." 

Leaving the candle in Saxby's hands, she returned to her kitchen, 
which was built out at the back. He halted at the parlour door to 
listen. No voices were to be heard then ; no sounds. 

" Pym may have gone to bed — I daresay his head aches," thought 
Saxby : and he opened the door to see whether the parlour was 
empty. 

Why ! what was it ? — what was the matter ? The young man took 
one startled look around and then put down the candle, his heart 
leaping into his mouth. 

The lamp on the table threw its bright light on the little room. 
Some scuffle appeared to have taken place in it. A chair was over- 
turned ; the ivory ornament with its glass shade had been swept from 
its stand to the floor : and by its side lay Edward Pym — dead. 

Mr. Alfred Saxby, third mate of that good ship, the Rose of Delhiy 
might be a sufficiently self-possessed individual when encountering 
sudden surprises at sea; but he certainly did not show himself to be 
one on shore. When the state of affairs had sufficiently impressed 
itself on his startled senses, he burst out of the room in mortal terror, 
shouting out " murder." 

There was nobody in the house to hear him but Mrs. Richenough. 
She came forward, slightly overcome by drowsiness j but the sight 
she saw woke her up effectually. 

" Good mercy ! " cried she, running to the prostrate man. " Is he 
dead ? " 

" He looks dead," shivered Mr. Saxby, hardly knowing whether he 
was not dead himself. 

They raised Pym's head, and put a pillow under it. The landlady 
wrung her hands. 

" We must have a doctor," she cried : " but I can see he is dead. 
This comes of that quarrel with his captain : I heard them raving 
frightfully at one another. There has been a scuffle here — see that 
chair. Oh ! and look at my beautiful ivory knocked down ! — and 
the shade all broke to atoms ! " 

" I'll fetch Mr. Ferrar," cried Saxby, feeling himself rather power- 
less to act ; and with nobody to aid him but the gabbling woman. 



198 Verena Fontaine s Rebellion. 

Like mad, Saxby tore up the street, burst in at Mark Ferrar's open 
door and went full butt against Mark himself; who was at the 
moment turning quickly out of it. 

" Take care, Saxby. What are you about ? " 

" Oh, for heaven's sake do come, Mr. Ferrar ! Pym is dead. He 
is lying dead on the floor." 

The first thing Ferrar did was to scan his junior officer narrowly, 
wondering whether he could be quite sober. Yes, he seemed to be 
that ; but agitated to trembling, and his face as pale as death. The 
next minute Ferrar was bending over Pym. Alas, he saw too truly 
that life was extinct. 

" It's his skipper that has done it, sir," repeated the landlady. 

" Hush, Mrs. Richenough ! " rebuked Ferrar. " Captain Tanerton 
has not done this." 

'' But I heard 'em screeching and howling at one another, sir," per- 
sisted Mrs. Richenough. "Their quarrel must have come to blows." 

" I do not believe it," dissented Ferrar. " Captain Tanerton 
would not be capable of anything of the kind. Fight with a man who 
has served under him ! — you don't understand things, Mrs. Rich- 
enough." 

Saxby had run for the nearest medical man. Ferrar ran to find 
his captain. He knew that Captain Tanerton intended to put up at 
a small hotel in the Minories for the night. 

To this hotel went Ferrar, and found Captain Tanerton. Tired 
with his evening's search after Pym, the Captain was taking some 
refreshment, before going up to Sir Dace Fontaine's — which he had 
promised, in Sir Dace's anxiety, to do. He received Ferrar's report — 
that Pym was dead — with incredulity : did not appear to believe it : 
but he betrayed no embarrassment, or any other guilty sign. 

" Why, I came straight here from Pym," he observed. " It's 
hardly twenty minutes since I left him. He was all right then — 
except that he had been having more drink." 

*' Old Mother Richenough says, sir, that Pym and you had a loud 
quarrel." 

"Says that, does she," returned the Captain carelessly. "Her 
ears must have deceived her, Mr. Ferrar." 

" A quarrel and fight she says, sir. I told her I knew better." 

Captain Tanerton took his cap and started with Ferrar for Ship 
Street, plunging into a reverie. Presently he began to speak — as if 
he wished to account for his own movements. 

" When you left me, Mr. Ferrar — you know " — and here he 
exchanged a significant glance with his new first mate — " I went on 
to Ship Street, and took a look at Pym's room. A lamp was 
shining on the table, and his landlady had the window open, 
closing the, shutters. This gave me an opportunity of seeing inside. 
Pym I saw; but not — not anyone else." 

Again Captain Tanerton's tone was significant. Ferrar appeared 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 199 

to understand it perfectly. It looked as though they had some secret 
understanding between them which they did not care to talk of 
openly. The Captain resumed. 

"After fastening the shutters, Mrs. Richenough came to the 
door — for a breath of air, she remarked, as she saw me : and she 
positively denied, in answer to my questions, that any young lady 
was there. Mr. Pym had never had a young lady come after him 
at all, she protested, whether sister or cousin, or what not." 
" Yes, sir," said Ferrar : for the Captain had paused. 
" I went in, and spoke to Pym. But, I saw in a moment that 
he had been drinking again. He was not in a state to be reasoned 
with, or talked to. I asked him but one question, and asked it 
civilly : would he tell me where Verena Fontaine was. Pym replied 
in an unwilling tone; he was evidently sulky. Verena Fontaine 
was at home again with her people; and he had not been able, 
for that reason, to see her. Thinking the ship had gone away, 
and he with it, Verena had returned home early in the afternoon. 
That was the substance of his answer." 

" But I — I don't know whether that account can be true, sir," 
hesitated Ferrar. " I was not sure, you know, sir, that it was the 

young lady; I said so " 

" Yes, yes, I understood that," interrupted the Captain quickly. 
" Well, it was what Pym said to me," he added, after a pause : 
" one hardly knows what to believe. However, she was not there, 
so far as I could ascertain and judge; and I left Pym and came 
up here to my hotel. I was not two minutes with him." 

" Then — did no quarrel take place, sir ? " cried Ferrar, thinking 
of the landlady's story. 
*' Not an angry word." 

At this moment, as they were turning into Ship Street, Saxby, 
who seemed completely off his head, ran full tilt against Ferrar. 
It was all over, he cried out in excitement, as he turned back with 
them : the doctor pronounced Pym to be really dead. 

"It is a dreadful thing," said the Captain. "And, seemingly, 
a mysterious one." 

" Oh, it is dreadful/' asserted young Saxby. " What will poor Miss 
Verena do ? I saw her just now," he added, dropping his voice. 
" Saw her where ? " asked the Captain, taking a step backwards. 
" In the place where I've just met you, sir," replied Saxby. " I 
was running past round the corner into the street, on my way 
home from Clapham, when a young lady met and passed me, going 
pretty nearly as quick as I was. She had her face muffled in a 
black veil, but I am nearly sure it was Miss Verena Fontaine. I 
thought she must be coming from Pym's lodgings here." 

Captain Tanerton and his chief mate exchanged glances of in- 
telligence under the light of the street gas-lamp. The former then 
turned to Saxby. 



200 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion, 

** Mr. Saxby," said he, " I would advise you not to mention this 
little incident. It would not, I am sure, be pleasant to Miss Verena 
Fontaine's friends to hear of it. And, after all, you are not sure 
that it was she." 

"Very true, sir," replied Saxby. "I'll not speak of it again." 

"You hear, sir," answered Ferrar softly, as Saxby stepped on 
to open the house door. "This seems to bear out what I said. 
And, by the way, sir, I also saw " 

" Hush ! " cautiously interrupted the Captain — for they had 
reached the door, and Mrs. Richenough stood at it. 

And what Mr. Ferrar further saw, whatever it might be, was not 
heard by Captain Tanerton. There was no present opportunity 
for private conversation : and Ferrar was away in the morning with 
the Rose of Delhi. 

III. 

After parting with Captain Tanerton on leaving the ship, I made 
my way to the Mansion House, took an omnibus to Covent Garden, 
and called at the Tavistock to tell Mr. Brandon of the return of 
the ship. Mr. Brandon kept me to dinner. About eight o'clock 
I left him, and went to the Marylebone Road to see the Fontaines. 
Coralie was in the drawing-room alone. 

" Is it you, Johnny Ludlow ! " she gaily cried, when old Ozias 
showed me in. "You are as welcome as flowers in May. Here 
I am, without a soul to speak to. You must have a game at chess 
with me." 

" Your sister is not come home, then ? " 

" Not she. I thought it likely she would come, as soon as the 
ship's head was turned seaward — I told you so. But she has not. 
And now the ship's back again, I hear. A fine time you must 
have had of it ! " 

" We just had. But how did you know ? " 

" From papa. Papa betook himself to the docks this afternoon^ 
to assure himself, I presume, that the Rose of Delhi was gone. 
And my belief is, Johnny, that he will work himself into a nervous 
fever," Coralie broke off to say, in her equable way, as she helped 
me to place the pieces. " When he got there, he found the ship was 
back again. This put him out a little, as you may judge; and 
something else put him out more. He heard that Vera went on 
board with Pym yesterday afternoon when the ship was lying in 
St. Katharine's Docks. Upon that, what notion do you suppose 
he took up ? — I have first move, don't I ? " 

" Certainly. What notion did he take up ? " The reader must 
remember that I knew nothing of Sir Dace's visit to the ship. 

"Why, that Vera might be resolving to convert herself into a 
stow-away, and go out with Pym and the ship. Poor papa ! He 
went searching all over the vessel. He must be off his head.'' 

" Verena would not do that." 



Verena Fofttaine's Rebellion, 20 1 

" Do it ! " retorted Coralie. " She'd be no more likely to do it 
than to go up a chimney, as the sweeps do. I told papa so. 
He brought me this news when he came home to dinner. And he 
might just as well have stayed away, for all he ate." 

Coralie paused to look at her game. I said nothing. 

" He could only drink. It was as if he had a fierce thirst upon 
him. When the sweets came on, he left the table and shut himself in 
his little library. I sent Ozias to ask if he would have a cup of tea 
or coffee made ; papa swore at poor Ozias, and locked the door upon 
him. When Verena does appear I'd not say but he'll beat her." 

" No, no : not that." 

" But, I tell you he is off his head. He is still shut up : and 
nobody dare go near him when he gets into a fit of temper. It is 
so silly of papa ! Verena is all right. But this disobedience, you 
see, is something new to him." 

" You can't move that bishop. It leaves your king in check." 

" So it does. The worst item of news remains behind," added 
Coralie. "And that is that Pym does not sail with the ship." 

** I should not think he would now. Captain Tanerton would not 
take him." 

" Papa told me Captain Tanerton had caused him to be super- 
seded. Was Pym very much the worse for what he took, Johnny ? 
Was he very insolent ? You must have seen it all ? " 

** He had taken quite enough. And he was about as insolent as a 
man can be." 

" Ferrar is appointed to his place, papa says ; and a new man to 
Ferrar's.'' 

" Ferrar is ! I am glad of that; very. He deserves to get on." 

*' But Ferrar is not a gentleman, is he ? " objected Coralie. 

" Not in one sense. There are gentlemen and gentlemen. Mark 
Ferrar is very humble as regards birth and bringing-up. His father is 
a journeyman china-painter at one of the Worcester china factories ; 
and Mark got his learning at St. Peter's charity-school. But every 
instinct Mark possesses is that of a refined, kindly, modest gentle- 
man ; and he has contrived to improve himself so greatly by dint of 
study and observation, that he might now pass for a gentleman in any 
society. Some men, whatever may be their later advantages, can 
never throw off the common tone and manner of early habits and 
associations. Ferrar has succeeded in doing it." 

" If Pym stays on shore it may bring us further complication," 
mused Coralie. '' I should search for Verena myself then — and 
search in earnest. Papa and old Ozias have gone about it in anything 
but a likely manner." 

" Have you any notion where she can be ? " 

"Just the least bit of notion in the world," laughed Coralie. " It 
flashed across me the other night where she might have hidden her- 
self. I don't know it. I have no particular ground to go upon." 



202 Verena Fontaine s Rebellion. 

" You did not tell Sir Dace ? " 

** Not I," lightly answered Coralie. " We two sisters don't inter- 
fere with one another's private affairs. I did keep back a letter of 
Vera's ; one she wrote to Pym when we 'first left home ; but I have 
done no more. Here comes some tea at last ! " 

" I should have told," I continued in a low tone. *' Or taken means 
myself to see whether my notion was right or wrong." 

" What did it signify ? — when Pym was going away in a day or 
two. Check to you, Johnny Ludlow." 

That first game, what with talking and tea-drinking, was a long 
one. I won it. When Ozias came in for the tea-cups Coralie asked 
him whether Sir Dace had rung for anything. No, the man 
answered ; most likely his master would remain locked in till bed- 
time ; it was his way when any great thing put him out. 

" I don't think I can stay for another game," I said to Coralie, as 
she began to place the men again. 

*' Are you in such a hurry ? " cried Coralie, glancing round at the 
clock : which said twenty minutes to ten. 

I was not in any hurry at all that night, as regarded myself: I 
had thought she might not care for me to stay longer. Miss Deveen 
and Cattledon had gone out to dinner some ten miles away, and 
were not expected home before midnight. So we began a fresh game. 

*' Why ! that clock must have stopped ! " 

Chancing to look at it by-and-by, I saw that it stood at the same 
time — twenty minutes to ten. I took out my watch. It said just ten 
minutes past ten. 

"What does it signify?" said Coralie. "You can stay here till 
twenty minutes to twelve if you like — and be whirled home in a cab 
by midnight then." 

That was true. If 

" Good gracious !" exclaimed Coralie. 

She was looking at the door with surprised eyes. There stood 
Verena, her bonnet on ; evidently just come in. 

Verena tripped forward, bent down, and kissed her sister. " Have 
you been desperately angry. Coral ? " she lightly asked, giving me her 
hand to shake. " I know papa has." 

"/have not been angry," was Coralie's equable answer: "but 
you have acted childishly, Verena. And now, where have you 
been ? " 

" Only in Woburn Place at Mrs. Ball's," said Verena, throwing off 
her bonnet, and bringing her lovely flushed face close to the light as 
she sat down. " When I left here that evening — and really, Johnny, 
I was sorry not to stay and go in to dinner with jw<;," she broke off, 
with a smile — " I went straight to our old lodgings, to good old 
Mother Ball. *They are frightful tyrants at home,' I said to her; 
* I'm not sure but they'll serve me as Bluebeard did his wives ; and I 
want to stay with you for a day or two.' There's where I have been all 



Vcrena Fontaine s Rebellion. 203 

the time, Coral; and I wondered you and papa did not come to 
look for me." 

" It is where I fancied you might be," returned Coral. *' But I only 
thought of it on Saturday night. — Does that mean check, Johnny ? " 

'' Check and mate, mademoiselle." 

" Oh, how wicked you are ! " 

" Mrs. Ball has been more careful of me than she'd be of gold," 
went on Vera, her blue eyes dancing. "The eldest daughter, 
Louise, is at home now : she teaches music in a school : and, if you'll 
believe me, Coral, the old mother would never let me stir out without 
Louise. When Edward Pym came up in the evening to take me for 
a walk, Louise must go with us. ' I feel responsible to your papa 
and sister, my dear,' the old woman would say to me. Oh, she was 
a veritable dragon." 

" Was Louise with you when you went on board the Rose of Delhi 
yesterday afternoon ? " cried Coralie, while I began to put away the 
chessmen. 

Verena opened her eyes. " How did you hear of that ? No, we 
tricked Louise for once. Edward had fifty things to say to me, and 
he wanted me alone. After dinner he proposed that we should go to 
afternoon service. I made haste, and went out with him, calling to 
Louise that she'd catch us up before we reached the church, and we 
ran off in just the contrary direction. * I should like to show you 
my ship,' Edward said; and we went down in an omnibus. Mrs. 
Ball shook her head when we got back, and said I must never do 
it again. As if I should have the chance, now Edward's gone ! " 

Coralie glanced at her. " He is gone, I suppose ? " 

" Yes," sighed Vera. " The ship left the docks this morning. He 
took leave of me last night." 

Coralie looked doubtful. She glanced again at her sister under 
her eyeUds. 

" Then — if Edward Pym is no longer here to take walks with you, 
Vera, how is it you came home so late to-night ? " 

** Because I have been to a concert," cried Vera, her tone as gay 
as a lark's. " Louise and I started to walk here this afternoon. 
I wanted you to see her ; she is really very nice. Coming through 
Fitzroy Square, she called upon some friends of hers who live there, 
the Barretts — he is a professor of music. Mrs. Barrett was going to 
a concert to-night and she said if we would stay she'd take us. So we 
had tea with her and went to it, and they sent me home in a cab." 

" You seem to be taking your pleasure ! " remarked Coralie. 

*' I had such an adventure downstairs," cried Verena, dropping 
her voice after a pause of thought. " Nearly fell into the arms 
of papa." 

''What— now?" 

" Now ; two minutes ago. While hesitating whether to softly 
tinkle the kitchen bell and smuggle myself in and up to my room, or 



204 Verena Fantaine's Rebellion, 

to storm the house with a bold summons, Ozias drew open the front 
door. He looked so glad to see me, poor stupid old fellow. I was 
talking to him in the passage when I heard papa's cough. * Oh, hide 
yourself, Missee Vera,' cried Ozias, 'the master, he so angry;' 
and away I rushed into papa's little library, seeing the door of 
it open " 

" He has come out of it, then ! " interjected Coralie. 

" I thought papa would go up-stairs," said Vera. " Instead of 
that, he came on into the room. I crept behind the old red window- 
curtains, and " 

*' And what ? " asked Coralie, for Verena made a sudden pause. 

" Groaned out with fright, and nearly betrayed myself," continued 
Verena. *' Papa stared at the curtains as if he thought they were 
alive, and then and there backed out of the room. Perhaps he feared 
a ghost was there. He was looking so strange, Coralie." 

" All your fault, child. Since the night you went away he has 
looked more like a maniac than a rational man, and acted like one. 
I have just said so to Johnny Ludlow." 

" Poor papa ! I will be good and tractable as an angel now, and 
make it up to him. And — why, Coralie, here are visitors." 

We gazed in surprise. It is not usual to receive calls at bed-time. 
Ozias stood at the door showing in Captain Tanerton. Behind him 
was Alfred Saxby. 

The Captain's manner was curious. No sooner did he set eyes on 
us than he started back, as if he thought we might bite him. 

" Not here. Not the ladies. I told you it was Sir Dace, I wanted," 
he said in quick sentences to Ozias. " Sir Dace alone." 

Ozias went back down the stairs, and they after him, and were 
shown into the library. It was a little room nearly opposite the front 
entrance, and underneath the room called the boudoir. You went 
down a few stairs to it. 

Verena turned white. A prevision of evil seized her. 

" Something must be the matter," she shivered, laying her hand 
upon my arm. *' Did you notice Captain Tanerton's face ? — I never 
saw him look like that. And what does he do here ? Where is the 
ship? And oh, Johnny" — and her voice rose to a shriek — "where's 
Edward Pym ? " 

Alas ! we soon knew what the matter was — and where Edward 
Pym was. Dead. Murdered. That's what young Saxby called it. 
Sir Dace, looking frightfully scared, started with them down to Ship 
Street. I went also ; I could not keep away. George was to sit up 
for me at home if I were late. 

'* For," as Miss Deveen had said to me in the morning, laughingly, 
" there's no telling, Johnny, at what unearthly hour you may get back 
from Gravesend." 

Johnny Ludlow, 



I 



205 



»/ "■ 



jllll 







^i-'T i- . — ^ » 



Norwegian "Station. 



ABOUT NORWAY. 
By Charles W. Wood, Author of "Through Holland." 

THE system of tra- 
velling in Nor- 
way is simple and un- 
pretending, befitting the 
necessities and ideas of 
a simple-minded people : 
one of whose greatest 
charms is an absence of 
that vulgar pretension 
which seeks every occa- 
sion for display and for 
surpassing its neigh- 
bours in magnificence. 
I do not believe any- 
thing of this sort exists 
in Norway. 

The mode of travel- 
ling is easy and inex- 
pensive, and, as far as it 
goes, well organized. But if Norway should become a popular 
country with tourists : and in this advanced age, when people go 
north, south, east and west ; when there is a perpetual thirst for 
something new : new emotions, new impressions, anything for ex- 
citement : when even ladies visit the Nile for a little change of air, 
and ride over the Rocky Mountains in undaunted solitude, and 
with an admirable courage given to few women : when the North- 
East passage has become a thing of the past, and the course of 
the Gulf Stream is at man's disposal : when all these changes are 
taking place, surely a country so near our own shores as the iron- 
bound coast of *' Gammle Norge," will have its day and generation ; 
will be visited, lionized, inspected, criticized, devastated, and finally 
abandoned — who or what is constant in this world ? — by the kings, 
lords, and commons of the earth. 

But ere Norway has become a prey to the Philistines, let those 
who can, enjoy what remains of her original freshness. It will 
not last for ever. As long as the world turns round, the sun and 
moon run their course, and the law of gravitation keeps people 
comfortably upside down, like flies upon a ceiling, so long must 
effect follow upon cause. So when the pilgrims of pleasure begin 
to invade Norway, as they do Switzerland and other lands favoured 
by Nature, one of her great charms will have ceased to be. 



2o6 About Norway. 

True, the sea will still beat upon her shores with its everlasting 
refrain, chanting its endless hymn to Nature : a wordless Memento 
Mori which involuntarily directs the mind to that other sea, into 
whose turbulent waves each must plunge, on his way to the 
Dark Valley leading us to eternal sunlight. The sea, I say, will 
continue to beat upon these shores ; the great hills, with their 
endless undulations, their cloud-capped peaks, will still be fraught 
with their solemn, chilling, mysterious, yet attracting silence and 
solitude ; the wind will whisper its endless monotones to the pine 
forests : and the cattle " upon a thousand hills " — a true description 
of this land — will still answer to the jodel cry of the peasant : but 
the endless stream of travellers, with their irritating, restless ways, 
their loud tones, their misplaced remarks — the vacant laugh and 
foolish exclamation, so often breaking in upon the most solemn 
grandeur — will mock the dignity of this lonely country, and desecrate 
its repose. 

And its people will change : their characters, aims, ambitions. 
It is, I repeat, effect following cause : as surely as the ebb and 
flow of the tide, the return of the swallows. 

And yet it is impossible to go about Norway, and not doubt 
whether it ever can or will become popular with the great army 
of invaders. Beyond fishing — an art which appeals to the few and 
not the many — there is not a very great deal to take them there 
in comparison with other countries : and there is a great deal not 
there that may be found elsewhere. 

The traveller has frequently to give up everything in the shape 
of comfort and luxuries : he must exert himself, too ; often travel 
under difficulties ; go through days of rain and cold, or submit 
to be detained at some lonely road-side station where life becomes 
a burden and man a misanthrope. There is no falling luxuriously 
into a corner of your comfortably built chariot, and having a nap 
if drowsiness overtakes you on the road. An upright position and 
sharp look-out keep you awake whether you will or not. 

In these days, when, if there is no royal road to learning, people 
like one in travelling — and, more often than not, have it — hard- 
ships, and bodily exertion, and, it may sometimes happen, nothing 
but a supply of black bread at the end of a long day's journey, to 
appease a wolf-like appetite, are not universally attractive, and will 
never be universally sought. 

Unless, indeed, things change. Things do change ; and not always 
gradually. We often run from one extreme to the other. We 
cannot say that the world is what it was even twenty years ago. 
I heard two sermons yesterday from thoughtful, eloquent men. 
The one said we were awaking to a better state of things. The 
religion of twenty, a hundred, three hundred years past, would not 
do now. He was glad of it. The other held an opposite opinion. 
He considered that in many things religious we were retrograding : 



About Norway. 207 

going from bad to worse. This he regretted. Each might be right, 
but each looked at it from his own point of view. In either case 
it was clear that things were changing. 

Ladies, again, now go up for Cambridge examinations : they 
make themselves conspicuous and invade man's provinces. They 
talk on platforms and "embrace" professions. Law and physic 
are open to them — and the Church, as tender lay sisters to attractive 
curates, who part their hair down the middle, perfume their hand- 
kerchiefs, and advise auricular confession. Ladies are quite at home 
in the dissecting room — and no doubt very much at home with 
the students. Probably they will tell you this is only another of their 
modes of " embracing " a profession. So be it. But our wiser fore- 
fathers-and-mothers had an old-fashioned idea that a girl's king- 
dom was her home, her best gifts grace and modesty, her greatest 
charm a feminine mind. It only remains for ladies. Leap-year or 
not, to propose to gentlemen. And then, where shall we find peace 
on the earth ? 

But at this rate, we shall not get through Norway. Digressions, 
like the poor little muffin bell, ought to be put down by act of 
parliament, for the benefit of the over-scrupulous reader. 

The present system of posting in Norway — our paper reminds us 
of a sermon that is divided into a number of heads but does not 
vary its theme — would never do for an influx of visitors — the 
Philistines already alluded to. Therefore they had better keep 
away. There is a certain sound of luxurious dignity about this 
same word, posting, quite out of character with the thing itself, as 
found in Norway. In England it suggests a handsome carriage and 
pair; a post-boy gorgeous in livery and not infrequently great in 
self-esteem. In Norway it is a simple little carriole, with one small 
horse: rope "ribbons," which you must handle yourself: and very 
often a small post-boy, not yet in his teens by some years, who 
sits upon your luggage, and, for all you know, is amusing himself 
by making faces at you behind your back. 

The price of posting is about threepence for every English mile. 
A Norwegian land mile is seven English miles, a fact that must 
not be forgotten by the traveller. Inexpensive as it sounds, and 
is, for one or two persons alone, it mounts up considerably if several 
are journeying together and the funds all flow from one exchequer. 
Thus a paterfamilias may be travelling with five animated appendages, 
his sisters, cousins, and a female aunt — which does not always 
mean, in these days, a feminine aunt. Or perhaps he is blessed 
with five well-grown olive branches. As they must travel with six 
carrioles, the sum mounts up to eighteen-pence per English mile : 
and as, the country being large, many miles have to be traversed, 
it becomes, in the end, an item not to be passed over in what our 
old friend Owen would have described to Bailie Nicol Jarvie as " the 
total of the whole." 



20 3 



About Nu^way. 



The " stations " are at distances of from seven to ten miles, 
more or less, from each other. If you are anxious to push on, you 
must take care to get up early in the morning so as to be in advance 
of other people on the road. Even then you may find that a party 




Old Bridge in the Mountains. 

of travellers have slept at a station farther on, and stolen a march 
upon you. In that case you may be detained one, two, or three, 
or even more hours at many stations. A fast station is bound to 
keep five horses, a slow station three : therefore if five people are 
ahead of you and all the horses are out, you must await their return. 
This is often tedious work. It may be a station surrounded by 



About Norway, 



209 



beautiful scenery, In which you are not unwilling to linger: bui 
it may be the contrary, and the station itself comfortless, and 
destitute even of a glass of milk or beer. Moreover, in travelling, 
especially in Norway, each day has its appointed work : so many 
miles and stations for so many days : and this daily work cannot 
be accomplished if delays are frequent. Travelling is complicated 
and troublesome from the fact that you often have to time yourself 
to catch a steamer at a certain place ; and as many of these steamers 
start only once or twice a week, arriving an hour after its departure 
means a delay of several days, and your plan is, like the world 




On the Road to Laerdal. 

upon occas'on, thrown all out of joint. It is true that delays at 
stations may in a great measure be avoided by sending on before 
you " Forbud " — an avant-courier : but this does not always answer, 
and it is an additional cost that everyone does not care to encounter. 
It may often be noticed, with surprise at the uneven balance of mind, 
how travellers will waste considerable sums over really worthless 
objects bought in the shape of so-called " souvenirs," and will screw 
down their necessary expenses to the very last fraction, making 
themselves perfectly uncomfortable, and certainly not leaving behind 
them a character for generosity. This is as bad a fault as that 
lavishness so much practised by Americans and a certain class of 
English, which has done so much real harm abroad. Extremes are 
better avoided. 

VOL. XXIX. p 



210 About Norway. 

And now, en route. 

We left Sorum on the Wednesday morning in company with kind 
good Mr. and Miss B., who headed the procession : Miss B.'s hood, 
it has already been recorded, occasionally swelling out to the 
resemblance and dimensions of a huge chimney cowl, turned hither 
and thither by the wind, as she gazed about her. They occupied 
the stolkjaer (pronounced stolecar), and w^e followed in carrioles. 
There were two post-boys for the three conveyances ; and the next 
station, Lindheian, was at a distance of half a Norwegian mile, or 
three and a half English miles. 

Now began our first experience of Norwegian " posting," their 
organized systems, their way of doing things. It was at first unfamiliar 
and somewhat incomprehensible. Not speaking the language, we 
could make no enquiries : and but for Mr. and Miss B., who ex- 
plained many mysteries, the increase of our knowledge would 
have been attended by doubts, difficulties, and errors. Yet, like 
the puzzle of the egg, it is all very simple when once mastered. 
Our troubles would have chiefly arisen from the fact of starting on 
a somewhat unbeaten track, where things and people were in all their 
native simplicity. 

Our present road was narrow but very picturesque. Close upon 
ns to our left were the mountains, grand and beautiful, covered with 
trees and tangle, wild flowers and ferns adorning the banks by the 
road-side. Upon the slopes the wild strawberry plant grew and 
flourished in profusion, for it is very general in Norway as in many 
other mountainous countries. When the fruit is ripe, small children 
wander into the hills and gather them, and as the traveller passes 
the little road-side huts, out they come and hold them forth, hoping 
to tempt him out of a few orer. This strawberry selling and more 
direct systems of begging the Government desire may be encouraged 
as little as possible. 

But the small strawberry urchins, their little faces and hands 
stretched forth in mute appeal — often a more eloquent pleading than 
words — formed a picture hard to be withstood. It was easy enough 
to pass the fruit — you cannot perform a sort of perambulating picnic 
in a carriole — but almost impossible not to satisfy the hope of a 
shght response shining in those bright eyes, and often very dirty 
faces. Nevertheless, it is unwise. One well-known village has been 
half ruined through an Englishman who some little time ago spent 
a few months there, fishing in the neighbourhood, and amused 
himself of an evening by throwing orer from his window to the 
boys in the road, for the slight pleasure of seeing them scramble. 
You cannot visit that place now without being worried by men and 
boys, who boldly come up and ask you to give them money. 

As is often the case, after an early rainy morning, the day was 
brilliantly fine, and with the freshness of the air our spirits rose to 
fair-weather point. Mr. B. grew quite youthful and excited, but 



I 



About Norway. 211 

irritated A. by what the latter looked upon as very slow driving and 
frequent pauses. Yet we went over the ground that morning as 
well as at any after period. A. had yet to learn that four miles 
an hour is generally the utmost speed to be got out of the horses. 
Anything much beyond this is immediately checked by the post- 
boy, in the most uncompromising manner. 

The love of these people for their horses is a great feature in 
their character, and a good one. They treat them with the most 
tender kindness and consideration ; and resent, as far as they dare 
or can, the slightest approach to illtreatment. Not that many would 
be guilty of cruelty ; but a stranger to the country is apt to forget 
the hilly nature of the roads, and that frequent urging would soon 
put an end to these strong, willing, and amiable little animals : 
amongst whose faults, however, must be reckoned a general and 
unpleasant habit of shying. 

We passed through the narrow lane amidst the mountains on 
either side, the wild tangles and the fir trees. To our right ran 
the noisy river, now near at hand, now winding farther away, but 
never quite parting company. Frothy, rippling, rushing, it seemed 
a living thing amidst dense solitude. Miss B.'s hood collapsed like 
a rent balloon, until at last she threw it off altogether, and cast 
round at us a half shy, half-amused look, evidently aware that she 
now presented a more coquettish appearance. Dear lady ! harmless 
vanity was evidently — and properly — not dead in her. Nor should 
it be in anyone. When not carried to excess it inspires a woman 
with the wish to please, whence flows the endeavour. With those 
frivolous young creatures whose lives are made up of overweening 
conceit, who pass their time in following the latest fashion and 
making themselves into a burlesque of life, we have no concern. 

At the end of an hour's drive we reached Lindheian, alighted, 
entered the station, inspected the rooms upstairs and down, and 
enjoyed Miss B.'s amusement at the papers on the walls, where 
extraordinary battles were being for ever fought, guns were con- 
tinually fired, and great slaughter lay around. Had we passed the 
night there, according to our original plan, we should doubtless have 
had nothing to regret. But the scenery around Sorum was much 
finer and more open : and even when night shuts out the moun- 
tains, we still feel and know that they are there, and the effect 
remains. 

The people at Lindheian were civil, the landlord especially so. 
In front of the house rose the mountains, and up the slopes went a 
boy in search of horses. In a short time he brought them down 
from some invisible recess. The luggage was strapped on to the 
fresh carrioles — we had now one a-piece — the post-boys from Sorum 
were paid and dismissed, and nothing remained but to sign the book. 
A day-book is kept at every station. Each traveller, before leav- 
ing, or the representative of a party, is compelled therein to put 



212 About Norway. 

down every name, and the number of horses engaged. By this 
means the succeeding party can ascertain how many horses are out, 
and misrepresentation on the part of the landlord becomes difficult. 
Some would make excuses if they could, and now and then try it 
on at night, in order to detain travellers and make money by them. 
Complaints against a station may also be recorded in these books, 
and the Lensmand — a sort of official constable or perambulating 
magistrate — in his appointed rounds, consults the book, takes note 
of them, and punishes the offenders. 

In about twenty minutes from our arrival at Lindheian we were 
off again. Mr. B. being a Norwegian, could hasten their movements 
in a persuasive manner ; but after we separated they kept us waiting 



Saeter Home in the Mountains. 

often an hour at some of the stations, when in five minutes every- 
thing could have been ready. And you are helpless. Offend them 
by the slightest remonstrance, or the most polite request for a little 
more speed, and they retaliate by keeping you waiting the longer. 

Amongst the healthiest and most praiseworthy features in Norway 
are the new and excellent roads to be found all over the land, 
constructed with great skill, labour, and cost. In a poor country 
this is a very great work. Over and over again we were astonished 
at the good roads in hilly passes ; roads passing by rushing torrents, 
or overhanging, as it were, the mountain-side, or skirting precipices 
and rendering smooth and pleasant a journey that would otherwise, 
have been lengthened and laborious. 

As we left Lindheian, a cavalcade of four carrioles, with one lady 
to enliven the party, the old road might be traced going up the 
mountain-side, steep and rugged, making in the old days a toil of 
pleasure — as all travelling then was in Norway. It was now used as 



About Norway. 



213 



a saeter path, said Mr. B. : conducting to the summer homes in the 
mountains, answering to the Swiss aim, when the cattle are away 
grazing, and the girls or the young men are looking after them. 
The saeters are small, rude huts, peat smoked, often blackened inside 
and out, constructed of logs and planks of wood, and affording 
sufficient shelter for the warm seasons and the long days. 

We bowled along, more figuratively than literally. No sooner 
did we get up speed, than the short bit of down hill or level road 
abruptly ceased, and Mr. B. coming to a dead stand at the bottom 
of the next ascent, would bring up the remainder of the party with a 
suddenness dangerous to an upright position. For the Norwegian 
horses have this peculiarity : that the first horse regulates the speed. 




The Baegna. 



and the others follow suit. If he goes slowly, so do they ; if he 
goes fast, they, too, become more lively. The one horse will have 
his nose as close to the carriole in front of him as possible. Now 
and then, indeed, the advance guard feels a sudden dig in his back, 
and on looking round is confronted by the horse's mouth, which 
is unpleasantly affectionate in its demonstrations. It is troublesome: 
for whilst the foremost horse has continually to be urged onwards, 
the other horses require quite as much to be held in. The occupier 
of the front carriole thus fills an unthankful position. To those 
behind he appears to be a very slow coach indeed; arresting speed, 
spoiling fun, and dragging onwards in a miserable manner. He is 
a victim, almost a martyr; his followers constantly urging him on 
to greater exertions, which are perfectly unavailing. He feels that 
he is momentarily losing the good-will of his companions. Four 
miles an hour is what few men appreciate. It is no better than 



214 About Norway. 

walking, say they, and really almost as tiring. What they like is 
to go ahead, and rush through a country. Here is a fall and 
there a hill ; but one fall or one hill very much resembles another, 
they consider. The only real pleasure in travelling, they argue, is 
the excitement of getting along, passing quickly from place to place, 
and having a sort of race with time. 

Unlucky Mr. B. came in that morning for his share of the burden. 
A. at last got tired of the walking pace and frequent stoppages, and 
declared he would take the lead. But, unfortunately, though his 
horse had kept uncomfortably close up, it was so humble-minded that it 
absolutely refused to pass and go in front. For once A. had to make 
a virtue of necessity and practise resignation. 

Well he might, indeed, for the scene was of a picturesque beauty 
uncommon to English eyes. The road wound in and out amongst 
the hills, which were broken up into chains and undulations ; some 
bleak and bare, and presenting a mere rock surface ; others covered 
with firs that looked fresh and green after the morning rain, less 
gloomy than usual in the dazzling air and bright sunshine. Those 
wonderful pine forests, the very sombreness of whose aspect makes 
them so unchangeably grand. Gloomy and sad they may be ; there 
is not the rustle and sparkle about them that you find in the spreading 
and more friendly branches of the elm ; but they are very constant, 
never changing, ever the same. 

During the whole of that ten miles' drive we never met a being or 
passed a creature, biped or quadruped. Solitude, eternal solitude 
seemed to reign — utter, uninterrupted solitariness; as much on the 
road below as on the mountain heights. I have never felt so out of 
the world, in a sense so cast adrift upon an unknown, uninhabited 
land, as during that first day's journeying. There were neither land- 
marks nor sign-posts to guide us : in a few hours we should have 
parted company with kind, obliging, sympathetic Mr. and Miss B.j 
and then, thrown on our own resources, v»^e must resign ourselves to 
whatever destiny might have in store for us. 

At length we turned out of the road, to the right, and in a small 
open space, a hundred yards or so down, we came to the station of 
Storsveen. 

I then thought, and looking backward, I think still, that this station 
must be one of the roughest and most primitive in all Norway. Were 
I to see it again, after the experience which followed of other stations, 
I might form a different opinion, though I fancy not. Anything more 
dreary and desolate, more aboriginal than it appeared, could not be 
conceived. It stood in the midst of this small plain, surrounded by 
the mountains, no sound save the flowing of the river on its course ; 
no house in sight but the station itself; not even a bird to break the 
mournful sense of stagnation. AVe seemed verily to have reached the 
end of all things and of the world. 

But Mr. B.'s unfailing youthful ardour did not forsake him even 



About Norway, 215 

here. It was equal to any emergency, and seemed to take things as 
they came; being, like a second Mark Tapley, most jovial under the 
severest strain. He sprang lightly out of his carriole, cut a caper in 
the air to restore suspended circulation, and then came up and asked 
us how we found ourselves, and what we thought of Storsveen, of car- 
rioles, and of all things Norwegian. It was impossible to resist this 
light-hearted nature, who took everybody under his wing, and had 
patted all the little boys' heads on the journey from Heen to Sorum : 
and so, stimulated by his good example, we too skipped gracefully 
out of our carrioles, and going up to Miss B., assisted her to unpack 
and alight from her vehicle. It was delightful to witness the pleasure 
with which Mr. B. received any attentions paid to his sister — who 
was just one of those persons to whom it was impossible not to be 
attentive, and even solicitous for her comfort. 

Storsveen is not a sleeping station, as far as I know; I may be mis- 
taken. But I do know that I should not like to sleep in the midst 
of that appalling solitude, as far removed from the world as if I were 
in the centre of the Great Sahara. Accommodation was of the most 
limited description. It was past two o'clock, and a not very sump- 
tuous breakfast in the early morning had paved the way for a ravenous- 
like appetite. Oh for a dish of that fine trout Miss B. had shown 
me with such pride at ten o'clock ! If we had only known what 
awaited us ! If only in this life we could always see the end from 
the beginning and foretell the future ! — how much good would be 
done, what mistakes avoided ! But we could not see even a day 
before us, and so the trout were left in peace at Sorum. Here we 
found nothing forthcoming but a supply of black bread, a little goat's 
cheese, and some not especially good beer. When we asked for 
further supplies, the mistress of the establishment looked vacantly at 
us, then mysteriously whispered to her husband, and finally shook 
her head in a melancholy way. It was evident that here, to ask and 
to have was by no meams the rule of the house. 

Black bread is of two kinds in Norway. There is one sort that is 
brown, sour, and yet not altogether unpalatable ; and there is a stage 
farther on, to which limits English appetite at any rate cannot extend. 
A. could manage neither one nor the other, and throughout Norway 
eked out a bare existence upon hard biscuit. As for goat's cheese, 
here and in other parts of Norway it looked and smelt exactly like 
hard, brown soap : I never had the courage to taste it. Miss B., 
whose capacities for fasting were great, refused anything in the way of 
refreshment : necessity compelled us to be less dainty. 

The house, as all these stations are, was built of wood. We entered 
a rough, long room almost bare of furniture, which sent forth a 
chiUing influence, and found the day-book. Then we went into the 
kitchen, which was strewn with green branches of trees, a frequent 
custom in Norway, which sent forth a sweet, resinous perfume. In 
the large chimney-corner, to the left hand as we entered, a rough, 



2i6 About Norway. 

stalwart handmaiden was boiling something in a cauldron — what, we 
stayed not to enquire. In this out-of-the-world spot it was as well 
not to be too inquisitive. 

Above the outhouse to the right of the main building, was a small 
bell-tower, or shed, and the bell is principally used to call the people 
down from the mountains. At such times the tones vibrate through 
the air and penetrate to distant parts of the hills, sounding an alarm 
sufficient to arouse from their long sleep those who are quietly resting 
after the burden and heat of their little day in the churchyard hard 
by. Not that the bell was a large one, but in these quiet neighbour- 
hoods, these great solitudes, sounds are tenfold magnified. 

The people of the station, to be just, were far better than their 
quarters, and were anxious to do their utmost for us during our short 
stay amongst them. But you cannot make bricks without straw, and 
what they did not possess, the best will in the world was unable to 
produce. So, with neither time, inclination, nor inducement to linger, 
we got ready again for the road. We had still far to travel, and at 
our present rate it was difficult to say at what hour we should reach 
our destination. One thing, however, we had already learned : that 
the system of travelling in Norway was never made for those who are 
pressed for time. 

So we paid the post-boys from Lindheian, watched them depart 
with their empty carrioles, and then ourselves prepared to follow suit. 
We left the kitchen with its pleasant smell of pinewood, and the girl 
who had never moved from her mysterious ministrations at the caul- 
dron, swallowed a little of their black bread and beer, and went out. 
Mr. B. superintended the strapping the luggage, about which he was 
as anxious as a lady is for the safe keeping of her bonnet-box; made 
them envelop our portmanteau in a sack to protect it from the mud 
on the road : and away we, too, went on our journey. 

We had seven miles to travel to the next station, Void : seven 
miles of the same fine scenery, the same grand, utter solitude, the 
vast hills and lonely mountain heights ; and then, after nearly two 
hours, another stage was accomplished. 

Void was very differently situated from Storsveen. We had not to 
go out of the way to reach it, but found it perched on the roadside 
in a mountain nook, surrounded and overhung, as it seemed, by the 
trees and tangles that grew upon the slopes. There was a close un- 
pleasant feeling about it of being shut in ; a want of air ; a longing to 
get out into more expansive quarters. The house itself was picturesque; 
it was built something after the style of a Swiss chalet, and we en- 
tered by the gable end. But the people were less obliging and civil 
than those of Storsveen. The spot seemed to breathe a veritable air 
of mystery, which no doubt was all imagination, but had all the effect 
of reality upon nerves beginning to get tired with the long, unfamiliar 
drive, the slow progress, in itself wearisome, the want of one's ordinary 
food. I simply could not have stayed the night in that place. A ner- 



I 



About Norway. 



217 



vousness took possession of me, which no one suspected ; that kind of 
feeling which passes on to presentiment, and which made me heartily 
respond to Mr. B.'s proposal that we should not linger here longer than 
was necessary. Had we done so ; dined and slept there ; no doubt 
we should have found Void comfortable, and the people attentive ; 
but our journey was far from being over for the day ; time was pre- 
cious ; horses and carrioles could be ready at once, whilst to prepare 
dinner would take an hour. So again we made martyrs of ourselves, 
and went on our way — fasting. 

Once more, therefore, and for the last time all four together, we 
started. The road became still more wild and picturesque than here- 
tofore. The Baegna now went rushing and roaring in turbulent haste 
and strong force over its rocky bed, deepening as the road ascended. 
Trees overhung us ; masses of tangle, slopes of wild flowers and the 
delicate green of the oak-fern continued to abound. Rugged grandeur 







Near JSokum. 



surrounded us wherever the eye rested. In about a quarter of an 
hour we reached the bridge over the Baegna, where we were to part 
with our kind friends. Our road would now lie to the left ; theirs 
onwards to the right. Miss B. was on her way to spend a month 
or two with friends, who — it seemed to us — must live on the very 
confines of the earth : and Mr. B., leaving his sister in safe keeping, 
would continue his journey to Bergen. There he hoped we should 
meet again. 

It chanced that we never did meet again. And here, in taking 
leave of them, though these pages may not come under their notice, 
I would express my gratitude for their more than kindness and 
consideration towards two travellers in a strange land : and what 
was still more embarrassing, in the midst of an unknown tongue. 
So far they had made all the difference to our journey; future 
progress would, in consequence, be comparatively plain sailing. 

We fell, too, soon after this, into the more beaten tracks of 
travellers, where complications need not be; where the station 



2i8 About Norway. 

people often spoke a little English : and travellers' wants were so 
much alike, that without being uttered they were understood. But 
so desolate and forlorn, so out of the way and out of the world, so 
leading to chaos and confusion seemed that first day's experience, 
that, without the support of Mr. B.'s kindly guidance and Miss B.'s 
bright countenance to enliven and relieve these apparently un- 
trodden paths, I doubt if we should have had the courage to 
proceed. Untrodden paths indeed ! From eleven in the morning 
until five in the afternoon, when we parted, we passed no creature 
on the road, heard no sound of voices save our own, saw no sign of 
life, with the exception of the sHght breaks at the stations, and the 
few people inhabiting them. 

We parted from our friends at five o'clock, at the foot of the 
Baegna bridge, through which the water was rushing with passionate 
haste and loud noise, foam upon foam. Mr. B. was full of fare- 
wells, and shook hands at least a dozen different times, and Miss B. 
waved her hand and occasionally looked back until quite out of 
sight. Everything about her was gentle ; voice, step, movement, 
and expression; and this, added to what must once have been 
considerable beauty, and was beauty still, made one wonder why, 
in the years gone by, she had not ceased to be an unappropriated 
blessing. 

So they departed and we saw them no more. I had like to 
have taken leave of Norway at the same time, and of life with it. 
Nothing would satisfy my horse but that he must follow the carrioles 
containing our lost companions. Endeavours to make him take 
the proper road were useless. He backed, plunged, reared, turned 
round, and was within an inch of precipitating himself and his 
driver over the steep banks into the rushing water below. For one 
moment I realized the feeling of a near and overwhelming danger : 
my heart stood still ; and, luckily, so did the horse. Then his mind 
took a sudden turn for the better ; he put his head down and plunged 
to the left — the left road proving the right road in this instance, 
though it is not always so through life. Away he dashed, and A.'s 
quadruped came trotting after. We might have compared ourselves 
to the Children in the Wood : children of a larger growth, it is 
true : but here were forests innumerable, if not the leaves and the 
robins : whilst those unhappy little beings, whose fate has rent the 
heart and harrowed the feelings of childhood from generation to 
generation, could not have found themselves in greater solitude and 
a more forsaken country than now surrounded us on all sides. 



219 



DAYLESFORD. 

A STORY OF OXFORD DAYS. 
I. 

DAYLESFORD. 

I WENT to Oxford at nineteen, pretty well acquainted with books, 
but as ignorant as the merest child of any knowledge of the 
world. My father, a country clergyman, who had led a most secluded 
life, and married late, had a horror of public schools, for he had 
been wretched at Eton. He had, therefore, educated me himself; 
and I had thus no opportunity of gathering from intercourse 
with society any of the advantages of which my education deprived 
me : for we lived in a small West-Country village, in a neighbour- 
hood purely agricultural. 

My father sent me to his own college, St. Ambrose's. Having 
been brought up at home, I had, naturally, no school acquaintances 
ready to welcome me into their circle. A few soon called on me, 
and these not of the best set or style. I was, fortunately, fastidious 
in my tastes, and contracted no intimacies : nor, with one exception, 
did I feel inclined to make any. 

During my first term I saw a man, called Daylesford, who took my 
fancy mightily at first sight. He was a couple of years my senior : 
tall, handsome, and dark-haired, with sparkling blue eyes, and the 
frankest and pleasantest smile I had ever beheld. It lit up his whole 
face like a sunbeam, and disclosed teeth of the utmost regularity and 
whiteness. I soon found out that he was the hero of St. Ambrose's ; 
a kind of Admirable Crichton : an adept at all sorts of muscular 
exercises, and invariably surrounded by a troop of friends. Asking my 
next-door neighbour in Hall one day, a reading man of the name of 
Boniface, if he knew anything of Daylesford, I got for reply the curt 
rejoinder that " He didn't ; and what was more, / had better not." 

Boniface lived on my staircase, and we had a speaking acquaint- 
ance, so I asked for an explanation of the sentiment to which he had 
just given utterance. 

" He's one of those swells who ruin the 'Varsity by coming here to 
idle and make others idle," rejoined Boniface, glumly. 

** He's the pleasantest looking fellow, nevertheless, it has ever been 
my lot to set eyes on," I said : for I did not like Boniface, and I felt 
uncommonly attracted to Daylesford. 

As my first term drew near its end, I began to get well acquainted 
with the state of politics at St. Ambrose's, though I seemed no 
nearer to an acquaintance with Daylesford. I found affairs in a very 
different state from that which I had expected from my father's 
account of his college. 



220 DayLesford. 

In his day, the Warden had been the Honourable and Reverend 
Fulke Greville, a learned and highly born man, who had died a 
couple of years before my time, at a patriarchal age, and had been 
succeeded by a head of a very different stamp — Dr. Lee, a self-made 
man of low birth, a Radical and an Evangelical ; all the traditions 
of St. Ambrose's were Tory, High Church, and aristocratic. The 
new Warden complained bitterly, and not without reason, perhaps, of 
the state in which he found the college discipline : but the endeavours 
he made to amend it were not crowned with the success they doubtless 
deserved. When I joined it, St. Ambrose's was fast verging towards 
a condition of open mutiny ; and I gathered from reports that my 
friend Daylesford was head and front of the offending. Night after 
night some piece of mischief was cleverly and quietly effected, 
culminating, one dark November evening, in the severing of the 
chapel bell rope. The outrage was discovered early the next morning, 
and the whole college was gated — i.e., confined within its walls — 
until the perpetrators should confess, or be given up by their 
accomplices. 

The sense of honour kept every man silent, although no one had 
any doubt as to the chief offender. Gated we remained for a whole 
fortnight, during which time the most absurd rumours were rife in 
Oxford. It was said the St. Ambrose's men were all sent down, and 
that the building w^as to be turned into a workhouse or a lunatic 
asylum. 

Towards the end of what was our term of imprisonment, there 
occurred a tremendous fall of snow ; it descended heavily and without 
intermission for forty-eight hours. The second night, just as I was 
going to bed, a man who lived on my staircase, and who had there- 
fore called on me, came into my room. 

" Such a lark, Carrington ! " he cried. " We are going to block up 
the archway between the quads to-night, so that Bogie" — the Warden's 
pet name — " and all his Dons will find themselves gated with a 
vengeance in their turn. Come and help us, there's a good fellow. 
Every man in the college, except Boniface and half a dozen other 
sneaks, is going to join us." 

At nineteen one dreads the epithet of " sneak," and needs but 
little inducement to aid a frolic. I turned out into the snow. A 
most whimsical scene presented itself in the inner quad. All noise 
of footfalls masked by the thickness of the snow, some thirty men, 
silent as ghosts, were working with a perseverance and alacrity 
worthy of the noblest cause in piling faggots, stored up for the 
winter supply of fuel, at each end of the archway which separated 
the great quad, the residence of the Warden and Fellows, from the 
little, in which the undergrads w^ere located. The wood well and 
closely packed, all interstices were filled, and their exterior facings 
well covered, with a thick coating of frozen snow. That done, as 
dawn began to break, Daylesford, who was here, there, and every- 



Daylesford. 221 

where, the ruling spirit of the scene, proposed to make a snow man, 
in the outward likeness of the Warden. The idea was greeted with 
a pantomime of delight : in half an hour a monstrous image was 
erected, of short stature and protuberant build, clothed in black 
inexpressibles, a rusty long black gown, and a battered old cap, 
all the very gear of the original — how procured, no persuasion 
could induce Daylesford to reveal. Our mirth partly exhausted, 
we were all back in bed before either authorities or officials were 
stirring, having laid the foundation of precious colds, but with no 
regret except that the geography of our situation would preclude our 
seeing the first ebullitions of the fury of the Dons at beholding our 
handiwork. 

It transpired afterwards that the porter, emerging from his lodge to 
ring the chapel bell — the rope had been mended — was the first to dis- 
cover the blockade : and report further alleged that the bloated func- 
tionary stood and swore aloud for full five minutes by the clock before 
he could summon self-command to go and apprise the Warden of the 
news. Rumour was grimly silent as to the manner in which he 
received the intelligence, but, once afloat, the whole governing body 
soon heard it, and turned out. At first incredulous, they were 
forced to receive the evidence of their own eyes. 

Labourers were procured from the town, and their work seemed 
easy : but the faggots proved an unexpected and most formidable 
impediment. By twelve o'clock, a passage was cleared ; and the 
porter, swelling with rage, made known to the occupants of the 
little quad — all found hard at work, each man in his own room — 
that the Warden desired their presence in the Hall at one o'clock. 

We presented ourselves accordingly, and were confronted by the 
whole posse of ofi'ended authorities. The Warden, infuriated almost 
beyond control, informed us in the curtest terms that unless the 
ringleader or leaders were given up at once, every man in the 
college should be expelled. If he or they were resigned to justice, 
the chief culprit or culprits only should be punished with this 
extreme rigour. Not a word answered him. There were several men 
present who had refused to join us : two or three who had been 
utterly ignorant of the projected example. Everyone's suspicions 
pointed, nevertheless, to Daylesford as chief offender ; but the sense 
of comradeship kept every one silent. The Warden's brow grew even 
blacker. The Dean whispered to him. 

" Go, gentlemen," the Warden thundered, laying a truly vicious 
stress on the substantive. " The Dean begs that you may be given 
half an hour for deliberation. At the end of that period bring me 
your ultimatum, and let me counsel you to be wise in time." 

We went, and held a meeting, at which the question, to yield or 
not to yield, was put to the vote. The Noes had an overwhelming 
majority. The result conveyed to the Warden, every man in college 
received notice to be out of Oxford before twelve next day. 



222 Daylesford, 

The afternoon passed swiftly onwards, and It became gradually 
more and more evident that a strong sentiment of anger and revolt 
against the majority pervaded many of the Ayes. No audible ex- 
pression was at first given to their feelings ; but their faces told 
the tale. And the wrath was not unreasonable : there were men 
among them to whom expulsion would be ruin. As nightfall ap- 
proached, murmurs found vent in words. Suddenly the news flew 
about that the sentence was repealed ; Daylesford had given himself 
up. He had wished and offered to do this from the first ; but his 
popularity was so great that a majority of the men had dissuaded him 
from the sacrifice. The murmurs of the dissentients, however, 
were not long in reaching his ears, and without communicating with 
anyone, he went straight to the Warden. 

All other offenders were forgiven, and Daylesford was summarily 
expelled. And thus vanished all chance of my making his ac- 
quaintance. 

II. 

MARY. 

My father was terribly concerned when I told him at Christmas 
how nearly my Oxford career had escaped a most summary con- 
clusion. To an old University man the sentence of expulsion is 
the most awful of penalties. It had its terrors for myself; for I was 
ambitious, though my father was a rich man, the Squire, as well as 
the Rector, of Fairford Parva. 

Matters at St. Ambrose's appeared to have come to a crisis with 
Daylesford's expulsion, for they progressed peaceably enough the next 
term. I settled myself to my work with a will : getting through 
** smalls" early, and through "mods" with success sufficient to encour- 
age me to work still harder for the final prize of a first-class. I had not 
much to distract my mind from my work, for I made no intimate 
friends in college, and the only acquaintances I acquired without 
were people who rather encouraged than interfered with my progress. 
My father ascertained by accident, when I had been some months at 
St. Ambrose's, that an old college friend of his, the Reverend Septi- 
mus Thane was Rector of St. Ingulphus' at Oxford. He wrote to 
him ; and the Rector called upon me, and asked me to his house. 

I found him a kind, gentlemanly old man, a bookworm of that good 

old High Church school, of which the late excellent Bishop of L 

was one of the brightest luminaries. In my visits I saw more of his 
daughter than of himself. At this date Charlotte Thane was a woman 
of two or three-and-thirty years of age, looking it, and not ashamed 
of it : a model helpmeet for a parish priest, and the best of daughters; 
an excellent housewife, and a quick, clever, well cultivated woman. 
In person she was tall, full, and well-made, with the most perfect arms 
and hands I ever saw ; pale-faced, dark-haired, with a bright, serene 
expression. She would have made the most admirable of wives : as 



Daylesford. 223 

it was, she was the most admirable of friends that a raw boy could 
well hope to have ; for she had the sense, the self-possession, the ex- 
perience of a woman of the world, and all that warm-hearted quiet 
kindness of manner which wins the confidence of the young and shy. 
I used to tell her she reminded me of Macaulay's exquisite descrip- 
tion of Madame de Maintenon; her character was like " that tender 
green upon which the eye loves to repose." 

Many of my leisure evening hours were spent in Miss Thane's 
company ; hours utterly undisturbed by any dreams of romance or 
passion, for she was too matter-of-fact, too straightforward, to have 
the slightest grain of coquetry in her disposition. The Rectory was 
one of the pleasantest haunts imaginable. One of those old- 
fashioned town houses standing in a street, but opening at the back 
with so charming a surprise into a green old-fashioned garden : having 
wainscoted rooms within, and trees old as the city walls without ; a 
dwelling perfect both in summer and winter to my mind. 

A day or two after the beginning of my second May Term, I went 
to pay Miss Thane my first call in that term. I opened the hall door 
according to my wont, and looked into the drawing and dining rooms 
on either side of the hall. Finding both empty, I walked out 
into the garden. There, sitting on a rustic seat under the shade of 
an umbrageous elm, I saw two figures where I had been wont to see 
but one. The second was that of a girl some fourteen years Miss 
Thane's junior ; a girl with rippling fair hair, and sea-blue eyes, 
a broad, low white forehead, and features piquante and most ex- 
pressive, if not perfectly regular. She was slight, but her figure, 
of middle height, was perfectly well moulded, and she had the 
smallest hands in the world, which were engaged in tying up a bouquet 
of early roses, from whose lustre a tinge of colouring seemed to have 
been imparted to her cheek. 

" My friend, Harry Carrington, Mary; Miss Neville," said Charlotte, 
introducing us as I came slowly forward, hampered by a hesitation and 
a bashfulness which had never before troubled me in the peaceful 
precincts surrounding Miss Thane. Miss Neville held out her hand ; 
Charlotte with her tranquil smile made room for me between them on 
the seat. 

" I did not know you expected a visitor. Miss Thane," was my first 
sapient remark. 

'' Nor did I when I saw you last, six weeks ago. But since you 
went down, I have been spending a week from home, marvellous to 
relate, and I found out that some distant connections of Papa's lived 
in the next parish to the one in which I was staying. The renewal of 
the acquaintance has led to Mary's visit." 

'' I have been so long anxious to see Oxford," said Miss Neville, 
" and Miss Thane says the May Term is the best. It is so kind of her 
to invite me." 

*' Do you find it all that you expected ? " I asked. 



224 Daylesford. 

" I am sure I shall : but I have only driven from the station here, 
and you know what a drive that is. I came last night." 

I looked eagerly at Miss Thane. She anticipated the expression 
of my thoughts. 

*' You will show us everything, will you not ?" she said. " It is so 
many years since I have lionized Oxford, that I daresay I shall find 
much that is new to myself I should be a most imperfect guide." 

" Let us begin to-morrow, and with St. Ambrose's," I cried. 

" Are you at St. Ambrose's ? And have you been there long ? " 
asked Miss Neville, fixing her blue eyes upon me, the colour deepening 
in her cheeks. 

" I am. I have been there more than a year and a half," I 
answered. 

The next day we began our tour of inspection with St. Ambrose's, 
in which Miss Neville took an interest which delighted me. It is 
a jolly old place, dear to the heart of every one of its sons. There 
are colleges in Oxford far more grand in outline, and far more perfect 
in detail, yet she said she liked nothing else half so well, after I had 
shown her everything. At no time could Oxford, its river, its 
buildings, its trees, look more lovely than in the soft glow and tender 
glory of May time, and a May such as we had that year. 

When we had seen everything that we could see, — and I made the 
most of the sights — we finished our round where we had begun it. 
I gave a luncheon in my rooms at St. Ambrose's ; the parti-carre — 
the two Thanes, Miss Neville, and myself — was perfect in my mind 
as to numbers. 

After luncheon the discussion fell upon the approaching gaieties 
which always end the May Term, and I told them that I should expect 
their presence at the theatricals which were to take place during 
Commemoration, at St. Ambrose's. 

" Oh ! how delightful ! " cried Mary, at whom I looked, though I 
spoke to Miss Thane. 

" I wish we could come," said Charlotte, earnestly, speaking low. 
" But, Mary, dear, we should want a chaperon, and I know no one 
who is likely to go. We have always lived so very quietly, you know." 

Mary's face fell deplorably. " Wouldn't your papa take us ? " she 
whispered. Mr. Thane, buried in a book as usual, heard nothing of 
what passed. 

** I should be afraid to ask him," his daughter said. " Glare 
and noise always make him ill, and it would be late for him." 

She relapsed into silence, and thought a few minutes, her brow 
knit. Then her kind face brightened. 

" Do you think your mother would come and stay with us for 
Commem., Mary? She could chaperon you then to everything. 
Harry and I would get you tickets." 

"You would go too," interrupted Mary. 

" If I were wanted, but not else. My days of gaiety are over," 



Daylesford, 225 

said Miss Thane, smiling her moonlight smile. "Write to your 
mother this evening, Mary." 

She wrote ; and an acceptance came, followed in due time by a 
stately, middle-aged grey-haired dame, of portly and most majestic 
bearing ; par excellence a British matron of the upper ten thousand. 
She was gracious to a degree to me : but I did not for one instant 
suppose she would have noticed me, had not my father's name been 
enrolled among Burke's Landed Gentry, as well as in the Clergy List. 
However, I was not critical, for Mrs. Neville's good-will was the thing 
I desired most to gain, after the affections of her daughter. 

And of Mary's love I began to have hopes. She was some- 
times pensive now, and at first she had been invariably gay : her 
colour would come and go with tremulous suddenness. Her eyes 
would sometimes fall before a glance : and they had been wont to 
look straight into yours with a piercing blue lustre. 

The campaign of Commemoration began on a Friday, with a 
concert at Exeter : on Saturday the Amateur Concert took place, in 
the Town-hall. Show Sunday was devoted to Magdalen and New 
College Chapels, and to the evening promenade in the Broad Walk. 
On Monday there was a flower-show in Trinity Gardens in the morn- 
ing : a Grand Operatic Concert in the Theatre in the afternoon ; and 
the procession of boats and a ball at Christ Church in the evening. 
On Tuesday the Freemasons' Fete was given in the gardens of 
St. John's, and in the evening there were the St. Ambrose' Theatricals. 
The next day we went to the Theatre in the morning : and were to 
go to the Freemasons' ball in the evening at the Town-hall : — it was 
som.e years ago, and the Corn Exchange was not then finished. 

We had been to everything. Mrs. Neville had chaperoned 
Mary to all the evening amusements, and to as many of the daylight 
festivities as her strength could compass. Miss Thane had given her 
the sanction of her presence at the chapel services, and at the less 
interesting of the out-door fetes. I had accompanied or joined them 
everywhere: and, despite a most robust constitution and the sustaining 
power of love, I was almost done up. But Mary seemed endowed 
with superhuman vigour : her spirits were unflagging, her energies 
untiring. Not until the afternoon of the Wednesday, the last day of 
Commem., one of pouring rain, and without any daylight engagement 
after early morning to occupy us, could she be got to confess that 
she was in the least tired. Then she allowed to Charlotte that she 
was certain she should be able to dance nothing that night but round 
dances, for she could not put her foot flat to the ground. 

Miss Thane betrayed her to Mrs. Neville, who bore down upon 
Mary and myself, seated in the drawing-room. " To ensure that her 
daughter should take some rest," she said, she turned me out, with 
orders not to show myself again at the Rectory, till seven, the hour 
fixed for the very high tea which was to reinforce us for the exertions 
of the coming ball. 

VOL. XXIX. Q 



226 Daylesford. 



III. 

DELILAH? 

I WENT to my rooms, and tried to rest, but I could not. My mind 
was in a whirl. Mary had told me that morning, that they were 
to go home on the Friday after a day of repose, and I had determined 
that I would tell her what was in my heart before I let her go. Should 
I tell her that night? or would the tranquillity of the peaceful rectory 
garden be a better theatre for a love scene, than the crowded ball 
room ? 

I could not make up my mind. I would trust to chance, I resolved, 
springing off the sofa on which I had been tossing for two hours and 
more. I went to the window. It had left off raining heavily, and a 
cool mist was falling. I looked at my watch ; it was six. An hour's 
walk and a pipe would refresh me more than enforced quiescence in 
a small, hot, low room, and I turned out straightway. 

Drizzling as it was, the High Street was full of sightseers, and in 
my present mood, the only endurable alternative to Mary's society 
was solitude. The rustle, chat, and laughter of strangers was intoler- 
able. I bethought me, consequently, of the quiet walk through 
Mesopotamia, then newly made : it would afford me a circuit of about 
two miles from St. Ambrose's to the Rectory, and, taken leisurely, would 
bring me to St. Ingulphus' in time for tea. I sauntered along, my 
hands thrust deep into my pockets, my head down, a pipe between 
my teeth. I got through the distance without meeting a living soul. 
Suddenly I felt that the sense of solitude was broken. I looked up ; 
and beheld, not five yards from me, Mary Neville hanging affection- 
ately on the arm of Daylesford. I had not seen him for a year and a 
half, but I could no more mistake him than her. The lapse of time 
had but made him handsomer, more distinguished looking : a long and 
silky black moustache now gave a manlier touch to his dark and 
aristocratic countenance. 

Mary was talking earnestly ; her face was upraised eagerly to his : 
an expression of tender and appealing affection softening, to the 
gentlest entreaty, the piquante grace of her delicate features. He was 
looking down on her, half persuaded, it was plain, for love of her, but 
yet most unwilling to yield. Neither of them perceived me till I was 
passing them : then Mary turned her head suddenly, and met my 
indignant gaze. I raised my hat ; she had the effrontery to bow with 
a would-be saucy air, but she had the decency to blush, and that 
violently. Daylesford gave me a careless glance, attracted by my 
movement : but there was neither recognition nor interest in his eyes. 
This, then, was the cause of her attachment to St. Ambrose's : this, 
the reason she had lingered over every detail, and had penetrated 



I 



Daylesford. 227 

every corner free to visitors. " She had long wanted to see Oxford." 
No doubt she had ! I had left her to rest, and here she was, a mile 
from home, braving the weather, and disregarding her extreme fatigue, 
for the purpose of an interview with Daylesford : an interview 
evidently clandestine, for I had never heard her mention his name. 

I ground my teeth in savage fury at her perfidy : in unavailing 
bitterness to think how vainly 1 could ever have hoped to cope with 
Daylesford. His was just the style and person that would infallibly 
attract a girl's fancy : the ideal of the aristocrat, tall, slight, with the 
grace of an Apollo, and the outline and bearing of a king. I, long- 
descended, even as himself, had all the outward man of a stalwart yeo- 
man, or at best, a country squire, middle-sized, strongly built, whisker- 
less, with blue eyes, light curly hair, and a colour like a girl's, with big 
hands, good for nothing but rowing or cricket, and big feet, apt to walk 
forty miles on end, or jump the breadth of twenty feet, but clumsy in 
a lady's drawing-room. 

What should I do, I thought suddenly, looking round after the 
pair, who were now far away in the distance. Should I throw her 
over at once, and with contumely, heaping open contempt upon her 
for her perfidy ? Yes ; and cut her to the heart. 

" Nay," reasoned common sense, all powerful sovereign, " how 
could / do that if Daylesford had her heart safe in his keeping ? I 
should but betray my own sore and jealous rage. There was another 
course by which I might hope to hurt her : I could wound her vanity. 
Vain she must be, for she had encouraged me ; and to what end ? " 
The second thought was the best, I decided. I would present myself 
at the Rectory. I would be as easy and as debonnaire as possible. 
I would join them afterwards at the ball, and dance with her as I 
had intended doing : and I would call the next day to take leave of 
them with the most telling sang-froid. " Diamond cut diamond" : 
she should think she had met her match for once. Me easy and de- 
bonnaire, good lack ! Me endued with sang-froid, or the hardness of 
the diamond ! 

No sooner resolved, than put in the way to execution. I bent my 
steps towards the Rectory. When I arrived, I found there Miss 
Thane making tea at the round table in the centre of the large old- 
fashioned drawing-room, and Miss Neville, looking heated and 
worried, but seated where I had left her three hours before ; in the 
bow window, looking into the garden, the same book open on her 
lap. As I entered, Mrs. Neville came down the wide staircase ; the 
good lady was flushed by a siesta ; her cap and her hair were a 
good deal tumbled and awry. 

"Well, my sweet child, and are you rested ?" she enquired, pausing 
at the door. "Have you been asleep, my darling? I have not 
closed an eye. I hope you have fared better ? " 

Mary looked up at her ponderously caressing parent, a hot flush 



228 Daylesford, 

rising, despite herself, to her very hair, as she murmured something 
which Mrs. Neville accepted as an affirmative. 

" That's well, my own. Let me go and call your dear papa, 
Charlotte ! " 

Charlotte thanked her ; and the dowager departed towards the 
study. Her back turned, I spoke, on the impulse of the moment, 
utterly infuriated by Mary's double dealing. 

" I hope you enjoyed your walk this afternoon, Miss Neville," I 
said, speaking in low, hurried, bitterly savage tones, which I flattered 
myself were the accents of cold composure. '' Not a very good 
preparation for dancing to-night, /should have imagined." 

She looked uncertain whether to burst out crying or laughing. She 
tossed her head haughtily, but dew-drops glistened in her eyes. 

" What, you are jealous, my friend ; * in all the moods and tenses 
of that amiable passion ' are you ? " she quoted mockingly. 

The blood rushed to my face. Her manner was irreconcilable 
with innocence. 

" Tell me what Mr. Daylesford is to you ; I have a right to the 
knowledge," I said, half imperious, half entreating. 

" My nearest and dearest," she said, darting a defiant- glance at me. 

" Thank you for the frankness of the avowal. It would have been 
better made earlier," I said, striving to conceal my emotion, but 
breaking utterly down. " Miss Thane, you will perhaps excuse me 
this evening } " I said abruptly, turning to Charlotte. 

She had not heard more than a word or two of our conversation, 
for her back had been towards us, and the room was large. Now she 
turned and looked at us both, with anxiety and wonder on her kind 
countenance. 

" Mary, what is it ? " she asked. *' Harry, stay ! " 

I was already at the door, but Mary had anticipated her call. 
Rushing forward, she had seized me by the arm. The clasp of her 
little firm hands darted painful transport through my veins. 

" Don't be a goose, you silly boy," she cried, with the manner of 
an adult admonishing a very little and very froward child. " I will 
tell you nothing except at my own time and my own pleasure, and 
that may be to-night at the ball." 

*' I am not going," I interrupted sullenly. 

*'' Not if I ask you to dance the first waltz with me ?" she said, stiil 
holding my arm, and looking up in my face, her colour raised, her 
eyes speaking soft and eager entreaty. 

Just so she had looked up in Daylesford's face, but the similitude 
did not strike me. I yielded like a lamb, as Mr. Thane and Mrs. 
Neville came in to tea. 



Daylesford, 229 

IV. 

ELUCIDATION. 

I had seen Mary in many moods before that evening, for hers was a 
most versatile nature : but never had I seen her half so gracious, half 
so bewitching. It had been her wont to make me pay for any mo- 
mentary touch of tenderness by flouting and tormenting me. Now 
she was altogether soft and gentle, and the experience had the charm 
of a double fascination. I could not tear myself away till Mrs. 
Neville told Mary for the third time it was necessary she should 
instantly go and dress. Then I sprang up, making a violent effort. 
" You will not be in time for the first waltz," I told her. 
" I shall," she said. " Mind ih^ityou are." 

I went ; thinking that no power on earth could have detained me 
from the ball-room a moment beyond the hour fixed on the tickets as 
that of admission. I was bewitched enough to have hopes that the 
mystery of Mary's conduct might be explicable. But the fates were 
against me. I found Boniface in my rooms, when I got back to St. 
Ambrose's. He still lived on my staircase, and we had kept up a 
degree of acquaintance founded on a similitude of interests and ambi- 
tions, as regarded our University careers. He had been working 
awfully hard, and had no stamina to support such exertions. He 
looked fearfully done up. Just as I was telling him it was a precious 
good job for him Long Vac. had begun, he justified the sentiment by 
falling off his chair on to the rug, in a dead faint. 

I snatched the sofa pillows and bolstered up his head : then I 
dashed into my room for a great can of water I kept filled to supply 
my bath, and deluged him with its contents, roaring out lustily, mean- 
while, for assistance. It came at last, in the person of a scout, ap- 
parently very much out of breath with haste, and considerably flushed 
as to the face. 

" He's uncommon wet," was the worthy's first sapient remark, as he 
surveyed the prostrate form. 

'* He is," I said, rather ruefully. You might have ladled the water 
ofl" him ; it was making a little lake on the floor. 

" He'll get cold," I said. '' Let's carry him to his room, and then 
you go for a doctor, while I put him into bed." 

No sooner said than done. The doctor came in due or rather un- 
due time ; he pronounced the patient in want of rest, and opined that 
bed was the best place for him. It was half-past ten before the doctor 
went. I was getting desperate ; so I promised the scout a sovereign 
to stay with the invalid till three the next morning, and flinging on my 
dress clothes, rushed to the Town-hall. 

Lancers were being danced all over the room, which was thronged. 
I looked round eagerly, but saw no Mary. Mrs. Neville, I descried, 



230 Daylesford. 

seated amid the chaperons on a bench close by the door, at the 
bottom of the room. As I was moving to ask her where her daughter 
was, a knot of people to the right separated, and I saw her whom I 
sought leaning on Daylesford's arm. She was speaking : they were so 
close I could hear what they said. 

*' Eleven ! and your friend not here ! It was a shabby trick to do 
you out of your dance, Mary." 

" Oh ! never mind, he'll come ! And he will ask me for another, 
never fear," she said, laughing gaily. " And I have had that one with 
you. You know mamma will never let me dance with you, Hugh, she 
says it looks as if I could not get other partners, and you always did 
suit me better than anyone else in the world." 

" What, better than Mr. Carrington?" asked Daylesford, bending 
down and looking maliciously in her face ; yet speaking a little 
jealously. 

*' Better than anyone, I have said," she answered flushing scarlet. 

In truth, even my jealous heart confessed that they did look well 
matched. Youthful, handsome, happy : he by far the most dis- 
guished looking man in the large and crowded room ; she, lustrous in 
pink, the colour of all others for fair and radiant blondes. As the thought 
passed through my mind, she turned round suddenly, moved perhaps 
by some presentiment of my presence. I advanced instantly towards 
them ; rage in my heart, a forced smile upon my face. 

" I should have to apologise," I said, bowing stiffly, *' but that I 
have no doubt my absence has provided Miss Neville with a far better 
and more suitable partner than myself." 

*' What, you have been listening ! " said Mary with a malicious 
laugh, and a provoking curtsey. " If you had come a little earlier, 
you would have heard something that would have interested yoa 
still more deeply." 

" I regret to have lost it," I said, stiff to pokerishness. 

"Mary! Mary! you are too bad," said Daylesford, dropping her 
arm and retreating. " You know where to find me when you have 
settled your difference with Mr. Carrington." 

" Dear me ! Hugh is out of sight already ! " she said, looking round 
w'ith feigned annoyance. " How very tiresome ! Never mind, I shall 
have plenty of opportunities to introduce him to you." 

"I have no desire to know the gentleman," I said. 

" What, not want to know my brother? " said Alary. '- How very 
uncomplitnentary to me ! I thought you liked me better than that., 
Mr. Carrington." 

" Your brother ? " I gasped. 

" My half-brother : better to me than troops of whole-brothers are 
to most girls. I could not tell you about him before, for mamma did 
not know he was here, and if my little plot had failed, she might have 
been set against you, if she had found out that you were a conspirator ; 



Daylesford, 231 

and she is not easily appeased. But I forgot — you do not understand 
it all. Of course not ! Let us go and sit down on one of those sofas 
in the passages outside, and I will tell you about it.'' 

A waltz was beginning, we found a lonely situation, and she com- 
menced her story. 

*' Mamma's first husband was a Mr. Daylesford. Hugh was their 
only child ; he is rich. Four years after Mr. Daylesford died, mamma 
married my father — Mr. Neville. Hugh was five years old then ; he 
lived with us till his majority : but there were often rows. Papa and 
mamma were middle-aged people when I was born, and they were 
strict, and not used to children. Papa, too, is excessively religious. 
Hugh was always my delight: my playmate, my guardian, my defender, 
my comforter. I loved him more than I ever loved anybody " 

" But not more than you love someone ? " I whispered, putting my 
arm round her waist. 

" Let me finish my story, sir," she said, disengaging herself, with 
scarlet cheeks. •' Well, we grew up, and Hugh came to college, rather 
late. He had hoped to get into the army, but mamma set her face 
so determinedly against it, and papa thinks fighting wicked. It would 
make her wretched, mamma said ; and Hugh is too kind to be happy 
while anyone he loves is unhappy. He had almost finished his course 
here, when there were all those rows in St. Ambrose's, and he was 
expelled. He had always been fast ; not really wicked, but wild ; and 
that seemed the height of viciousness to papa. His expulsion made 
him furious, and mamma excessively angry. They refused to see him, 
and even returned a letter unopened that he wrote to mamma. He is 
haughty, and tried no more, but I did not give up hopes, and watched 
for an opportunity of reconciling them. Mamma is the governing 
spirit at home, Mr. Carrington : I knew if she could ever be brought to 
forgive Hugh, papa would follow her lead at last, after much grumbling. 
If she were to see him, unprepared, I thought her heart might melt. 
So I wrote to him directly she came here, telling him that I was in 
Oxford, but not saying that she was. I met him by appointment this 
afternoon, when she was safe asleep ; and made him promise to be 
here waiting for us this evening. He met us at the entrance to the 
room, and mamma gave in with ignominious quickness at the sight of 
him. They have had a talk, and she has promised to use her influence 
with papa, if Hugh will take his degree as a sign of penitence. He is 
going to Magdalen Hall next term." 

" I wonder why you concealed so carefully from me that you had 
had a brother at St. Ambrose's ?" I said, as she paused. 

" Because Charlotte Thane told me before I saw you how good 
and proper you were, sir," she replied ; " and I thought that you would 
be set against Hugh if you knew he had been expelled. I wanted 
you so much to meet him without prejudice, and like him." 

Then I told her, to her intense delight, how powerfully Daylesford 



232 Daylesford. 

had taken my fancy when I had first seen him ; and that I had helped 
in the very raid which had terminated in his expulsion. 

" I am glad ! " she said. " I shall not be frightened of you now I 
know you are like other people." 

''Were you ever afraid of me ?" I asked, astonished. 

"Dreadfully," she confessed; but her eyes half contradicted her 
words. 

"You will never be afraid of me again," I whispered. 

" No," she promised. And then I began to take myself most 
bitterly to task for my brutal suspicions. " If Charlotte Thane had 
only happened ever to tell me that she had known Daylesford, I 
should have been less idiotic ! But, you see, it seemed to me that 
his existence had been purposely hid from me — " 

" Charlotte had never heard there was such a person till six weeks 
ago," interrupted Mary. "It is papa who is a connection of the 
Thanes, and you know they had lost sight of each other for years and 
years. I could hardly help giving you a hint of the nature of the 
mystery this afternoon, but you made me too angry. You ought to 
have felt you could trust me " 

" I should have if I had loved you less," was my logical defence. 
" I cannot imagine such a love as mine free from jealousy. Your 
cool, indifferent suitors may be judicious and impartial, but I am of a 
different stamp, my sweetest." 

" I hope you are going to be a barrister ? " queried Mary torment- 
ingly. " You have skill enough to make the worse appear the better 
cause, most certainly." 

I was about to take my revenge, when the portly form of my mother- 
in-law elect loomed, large and imposing, in a doorway close at hand. 

" My dearest child," she began. " Do you know you have sat out 
two whole dances ? And your deserted partners have been teasing 
me out of my very life." 

We rose, murmuring apologetically, and considerably roseate as to 
our cheeks. 

" You must give me all the round dances while I am here," I 
whispered. " I have to be back by three. And that reminds me I 
have never told you why I was late to-night " 

"You need not," she interrupted with a saucy smile. " I know 
well enough you would have been here in time if you could have 
managed it." 

I took a first-class in due course, and married Mary directly after- 
wards. I got not only the wife I coveted but the friend I desired, and 
a brother to boot. Daylesford and myself became inseparables. One 
of the first questions I asked him was, where he got the Warden's 
toggery from to decorate our man of snow. " I tipped that old humbug 
of a porter considerably," was the simple explanation of the mystery. 



233 



ANTOINE, THE BLACKSMITH. 

By.F. E.M. Notley, Author of "Olive Varcoe." 

WE have grand names in the Ardennes ; old Roman names, 
modified into patois, toned down, as it were, to a sober 
tint, suited to the grimy trades to which Csesar, Augustus, Antony, 
and Galba have betaken themselves. 

Antoine, the blacksmith, was a sturdy fellow, and in spite of a stoop 
in the shoulders, he was handsome too, and well-made. Yet there 
was a shiftiness in his eye that made that stoop, at times, look wicked. 
He had a hazel eye — light hazel, the fickle colour — the most fickle 
eye that shines ; the eye ever changing, ever seeking something new, 
every wearying of what it hath, ever greedy of enjoyment in the 
present, ever ungrateful for the past, unmindful of the future. Ah ! 
and when such an eye hath soft brown lashes round it, 'tis the most 
dangerous eye to a woman's peace that ever lighted up the head of 
fickle man. 

Poor Eulalie ! She was the prettiest girl in all the commune, but 
not hardy and brown like the Ardennaises. No touch of coarseness 
in her ; too frail and delicate for the rough climate and the 
rough people, she looked like some pale exotic plant brought 
harshly from a greenhouse to die in the cold wind. 

I was very sorry when I saw her dancing with Antoine at the 
village fete ; sorrier still when I met her next day coming home from 
vespers, walking shily by his' side. 

" Now, hang the man !" I said, within myself. ''Are there not 
hardy maidens enough in the village — maidens who would bear his 
fickleness as calmly as they will next winter's frost ; why, then, 
should he fix on this frail flower ? If he breathes over it one frosty 
breath, it will die." 

" Good evening, Eulalie," I said, aloud. " It is rather late for 
you to be out : the wind is fresh, the dew is falling fast. You 
should go in, my child. You know the Doctor said you should 
avoid night air." 

" I have my shawl, sir, thank you," she said, sweetly. 

*' I can take care of Ma'amselle Eulalie," said Antoine, with a 
curious fire in his light eyes. " Monsieur's solicitude is ill-placed. 
Bon soir, monsieur. We go to take a turn by the river." 

I looked after them and sighed. Then I turned resolutely 
away. 

" A plague take my dreaming fancies ! " thought I. " Why must 
I always be meddling ? And a thousand of my poor warnings would 
be of no avail. Will a pebble on the sea-shore stop the tide ? " 

I had a house near that pretty hamlet — a sort of summer nest — 



234 AntoinCy the Blacksmith. 

whither I resorted in the fishing months, when the river near was 
brimful of trout and grayling, and teeming with other fish less 
dainty. And so it happened every day, as I shouldered my basket 
and rod, and went forth solitary to my sport, I saw Antoine, the 
blacksmith, busier at his wooing than at his work. In the morning 
I met him coming to his forge, and I knew he had had speech with 
Eulalie in her little garden, for the saucy man bore a flower in his 
hand, or pinned daintily in his wide-awake, and his light hazel eyes 
smiled mockingly as he bade me good-morrow. Then, in the 
evening, when I came home weary, well-laden with fish, I saw his 
forge fire dead, and his tools flung down with a hasty hand. 

" He is away in the summer woods with Eulalie," I said, and my 
basket and rod grew strangely heavy. 

When I met Eulalie she was all smiles and brightness — a rosier 
hue on her delicate face, a softer light in her loving blue eyes, and 
in her elastic step a newer grace. Looking at her happiness, I grew 
to have softer thoughts of Antoine. 

" I have mistaken his character," I said ; " or else this poor girl's 
singular beauty is able to chain even a fickle fancy." 

Then I schooled and chided myself right well for my own sore 
thoughts. 

** Come now, silly one," I said, " own to thyself that this rare 
beauty of hers — so delicate, so patrician — stirred within thy solitary 
fancy some strange dreamings. * Not a girl made for a peasant 
to love,' ran thy musings, * but intended by nature for a lady. Nay, 
more, a princess of the woods ; too delicate, too refined, to give her 
heart to one of these clowns. If, now, a man — a gentleman — 
knowing his own mind, could have the courage to fling aside worldly 
trammels " 

Ah me ! how the threads of a thin purpose snap even at a slight 
touch. 

Antoine, the blacksmith, danced next night with Eulalie at the 
village fete, walked home with her from vespers, and, in the morning, 
I went fishing ! 

" All things are for the best," I said. " She is a peasant girl — 
the princess was in my fancy — and she loves a peasant. How much 
better and happier for her than the sneers of Brussels, or the cold 
contempt of an English provincial town." 

So I hooked trout and grayling in glens and valleys, where a 
painter's soul would faint with ecstasy, and Antoine, the blacksmith, 
went into Love's garden, and picked my fairest rose. 

What mattered it ? Philosophy and the world's customs deemed 
us both right. Therefore, it was better for me to fish and take my 
pastime, and leave Antoine, the blacksmith, to his work, and his 
wooing. This last was sport to him — crueller sport than mine ; for, 
like a wicked fowler, he snared my little bird and slew it. 

When I went back to Brussels in the autumn, I left the pair be- 



Antoiney tJie Blacksmith, 235 

trothed. I was in haste to go ; I resisted the great Baron's entreaty 
to stay a week with him, to hunt the wild boar, and shoot foxes and 
wild cats in the forest; and I rejected the more noble offer of an 
adventurous Cantab, who had brought a paper boat upon his shoul- 
ders, and proposed to row me and himself down the rivers Lesse and 
Meuse, and on to the world's end if I would. 

In hard work at Brussels, the winter went by coldly, the spring 
more coldly still; then came fiery summer, and I thought gladly of 
rushing back to my nest in the Ardennes. 

" They were to be married at the new year," I said. " She is 
quite a matron now. Ah, well ! I hope Antoine, the blacksmith, 
will make her a good husband — good and true, for he has the 
fairest flower of the Ardennes." 

I asked no questions of my housekeeper on the night of my 
arrival in my summer home, and in the morning the good dame was 
busy, so I strolled down to the village and called at the good 
Cure's. 

"Yes, he is at home," said the priest's sister; "but he is en- 
gaged." 

" Then I will wait awhile," I answered, and I stepped into the 
little parlour. 

When the door was closed, and I was left alone, the hum of voices 
reached me, and looking into the garden, I saw the Cure seated on 
a rustic bench near the window. A muffled figure stood by him ; 
but she leant against the wall, and I could not see her face. 

" No, my father; let him who caused my pain partake of it. It 
seems that I must die. Well, let him see me die. Let him know 
what he has done." 

The book I had taken up fell from my hand. This was Eulalie's 
voice, changed and broken, but not less sweet and musical. 

" My child," said the priest, " you are wrong ; these feelings are 
sinful ; they savour of revenge." 

" No, father ; not revenge. Heaven has avenged me. The girl 
for whom he left me is dead — cut down in the midst of her triumph 
and joy — dead, after only one day's illness. How, then, can I have 
thoughts of vengeance in my heart ? And although I too, die, the 
good God has been merciful to me. I die slowly, inch by inch, and 
not in joy, as she did. No ; joy and 1 parted long ago." 

" But, my daughter, surely for one so near the end, thy thoughts 
are too much engrossed by this world. Come to me in confessional, 
and hear of heavenly things ; and put the thoughts of this marriage 
behind thee, as a temptation of the enemy." 

" O father, you mistake me ! " cried Eulalie, and there was a slight 
ring of indignation in her voice. " I do no wicked thing in marrying 
Antoine. I love him. He is come back to me in sorrow and re- 
morse, and no one will believe that I have forgiven him, if I do not 



236 Anioijte, the Blacksmith. 

become his wife. If he is my husband, he can nurse and tend me ; 
he can come to my bedside, and receive my last prayer, my last word ; 
but if I refuse him, I must die away from his presence, and my mother 
will hate him." 

*' Say no more, poor child; I will marry thee, if thou wilt." 

" Thanks, father. All the formalities the law demands are done; 
we will come to church to-morrow." 

She went down the garden with a feeble step, and as she turned to 
shut the wicket gate, I saw her face. 

Was this the Flower of St. Etienne ? Poor flower ! how changed 
and sad, how pale and broken, since I saw her, but a year ago, 
radiant in the joy of her first love. 

" What has happened ? " I asked the Cure, as he shook me by the 
hand. '' Eulalie is sadly altered. She has a dying look upon her 
face that grieves me." 

" Her face tells but the sorrowful truth, my friend. She goes with 
the first breath of autumn; she is in a deep decline." 

'* And how is this, that she is not married to the blacksmith ? I 
overheard your talk ; you marry her to-morrow." 

" Yes ; and I am sorry for it. The man looks upon this marriage 
as an expiation of his sin, and I would not grant him this poor salve 
to his conscience could I help it." 

" But they were to have been married at the new year," I cried. 
** I cannot understand this delay." 

'' At the new year, Antoine was talking of marriage to another 
maiden. Sit down, and I will tell you the tale. 

" All went well with Antoine and Eulalie till the Feast of St. Barbe, 
last November. At the little village of St. Barbe, across the hill, there 
was a dance on their fete day. Antoine went to it. Eulalie did not 
go. The weather was rough, and he persuaded her to remain at home. 
Of late, I think, he had wearied a little of her love, and her calm 
temper, which never tried him with caprice and coquetry. 

"There was a procession and much extra service at the church of 
St. Barbe on the fete day, and I went thither to assist the Cure. So 
it happened that I passed down among the dancers in the afternoon, 
and observed Antoine dancing vigorously with a handsome girl 
named Therese Dufresne." 

" I have ever thought him a fickle man, " I said, interrupting the 
Cure's story with a useless sigh. 

" Fickle and heartless. The dance was but the beginning of his 
coquetry with Therese. A few Sundays more he still appeared by 
Eulalie's side in coming home from mass ; a few evenings more he 
waited for her, as she came from vespers ; then he went over shame- 
fully to his idol, and all the village knew she was deserted. She had 
no pride to bear her up. She sank from that day, making no effort 
to hide her grief. 

'' But, engrossed in his new passion, Antoine saw nothing. He 



Antoine^ the Blacksmith. 237 

was at St. Barbe every day. He spent all his Sundays and holidays 
there. From her window Eulalie often watched him, as he walked 
whistling and careless over the hill, swinging in his hand the flowers 
he was taking to Therese. 

" Therese was a handsome girl. A thorough Ardennaise, with 
dark hair and eyes, and ruddy brown complexion, tall and strong, 
with an arm almost as well able to wield a hammer as Antoine's own. 
Moreover, she was wilful in her temper and capricious, and this 
suited a man like him. 

"As he vrent to St. Barbe, he never knew whether his greeting 
would be kind or cruel. If she had parted with him with a kiss on 
one day, she might meet him with a frown and a hard word the next. 
And so, in spite of their many quarrels, she kept the fickle man 
faithful, far more enthralled by her coarse beauty and hard 
caprices, than ever he had been by the perfect love and loveliness of 
Eulalie. 

*' At length he told in triumph that he had won her consent to 
wed him ; and he wore at his forge a more joyous face, whistling and 
singing as he handled his work, and sent forth the sparks from his 
fire merrily into the little street. 

" Eulalie would not believe the news. She could not, would not, 
deem him so cruel and heartless. Up to this time she had, perhaps, 
nursed some foolish hopes ; some thought that he would leave his 
fickle fancy and come back to her. And when her mother told her 
the tale of his approaching marriage, she shook her head, and said 
she would only believe it from his own lips. 

" She went down to the forge, where the hammer sounded merrily 
on the anvil, and the sparks flew, and the laughter and jest of rude 
health helped the work, and added to its noisy music. There, un- 
noticed, she leaned a moment against the door-sill, watching the 
brawny arms and handsome face of her false lover, as, in the pride of 
his strength, he wielded and moulded the glowing iron on his anvil. 
He, careless in the enjoyment of his coarse health, and happy in his 
fickle love, and she pale, broken-hearted, and dying — dying for him. 
There she stood at his door, unregarded — she who had wasted health, 
and life, and love on him — while he trolled a rollicking ditty with 
amorous lips, and the glow of the fire warm on his ruddy cheek. 
But suddenly he turned his light hazel eyes on her — the sheen of 
the flames in them — and a touch of shame came over him. 

" * Ma'amselle Eulalie,' he said, *can I do anything for you ? ' 

" 'I am come,' gasped the girl, 'not in anger, Antoine, but only 
to hear the truth from your own lips. Is it true that you marry 
Therese Dufresne next week ? ' 

" Her face turned ashy pale as she spoke, and she grasped the 
door-sill with feeble hands to support herself. 

''Antoine was embarrassed and silent. 

" ' You see, Mademoiselle Eulalie,' he said, shrugging his shoulders, 



238 Antoiney the Blacksmith. 

and holding out his blackened hands in a deprecating way, * you 
were scarcely the girl to suit a man like me. You are so frail and 
delicate — almost like a lady.' 

'' * Antoine, I was well and happy till I knew you.' 

" And, wringing her hands together, the dying girl looked in his 
face for pity. But there was none. There was only a rough kind 
of shame in the man, and a feeling of irritation that she should dare 
to come there, and reproach him with her pale face. 

*' * You had better go home. Mademoiselle ; the villagers will wag 
their tongues at you if they see you speaking to me now.' 

" * The truth ! the truth ! Tell me the truth, Antoine ; that is all 
I ask.' 

" * Well, then, since you will have it — yes ; I marry Mademoiselle 
Therese next week.' 

"And, as he spoke his bride's name, there shone in his pale eyes 
that amorous light and gleam of triumphant passion, that in days 
gone by had fallen upon Jm- face in warm rays, when he stooped to 
kiss her, or when beneath the summer shade of trees, they had walked 
hand in hand, talking of their love. 

" Down upon the anvil came the stalwart blow of his great 
hammer, and, adding discourtesy to his cruel words, he turned his 
back on her, whistling at his work. It needed but this to break 
her heart. She left the door faint and sick with woe, uttering no 
word of anger, breathing no rash prayer to heaven to avenge her 
cause. 

** And yet the vengeance came. The month of May broke in 
upon us fiercely hot. Snow melted hurriedly on the hills, flooding 
valley and meadow as with a sea, and as this dried in the sun, 
leaving many a sluggish pool, fever fell upon the villages that lay 
nestled in the deep glens. 

"You know, St. Barbe lies low between great cliffs. Well, the 
fever fell there first, and in three days ten men and women, hale and 
hearty, dropped before it, as the corn falls before the sickle. 

" In the evening Therese Dufresne walked with her lover, counting 
the hours to their wedding ; in the morning she lay on her bed 
stricken, raving, dying. Her father sent for Antoine, but she did not 
know him. With frenzied hands, she pushed him from her, and 
died raving of some old lover gone for a soldier, and lying blind in 
the hospital at Ghent. 

" And now the blacksmith was a marked man. People cried 'A 
judgment ! ' and his forge grew silent and deserted. Meanwhile, 
Eulalie perished day by day, like a flower withering in the wind. 
And whether it was remorse, or time-serving fear, or a return of love, 
I know not, but in a few short weeks after Therese's death, Antoine 
wooed her again to be his wife, and she consented." 

Thus the Cure's tale ended : and I, looking sorrowfully in his face, 
sat silent, then walked homewards musing on many things. 



Antoine, the Blacksmith. 239 

They were married, but I went not to the wedding ; and for many 
days I shouldered my basket early, and wandered to the deepest and 
farthest glens, sometimes throwing my line idly in the stream, but 
oftener sitting on the bank watching the riplets flow and the rushes 
wave. 

So a month went by ; and every evening when I returned and laid 
down my empty basket, with the smile that hid a sigh, I heard that 
she was worse. 

" She is dying fast, now," said my housekeeper. " Poor thing ! 
she is worn to a very shadow. I saw her yesterday in the cemetery 
leaning on her husband's arm, choosing her grave. There were 
tears on his cheek. Ah ! he has his share now of grief, as it is fitting 
he should have. And I hear they are very poor. People go miles 
away to another forge, rather than go to him." 

'' Poor ! " I said. And there rose up in my throat so strange a 
sob, that for a moment no other word would come. Then, hiding 
my face in shadow, I bade her take hastily all needful things to her. 

'' No, stay — not to her. Take them to her mother, and let her 
take them' to her daughter." 

Then, sitting lonely by my wood fire, I thought bitterly of the 
empty shadows of this world, and how strange it was that I should send 
bread in charity to one whom, in foolish dreams, I had clothed in 
satin and jewels, and honoured as a queen. 

A few days further on, when I heard she would leave her bed no 
more, there came upon me a silly longing to see her face. After many 
thoughts and fightings with my wish, I spoke to her mother of this. 

** I had ever been her friend," I said. " Might I see her and say 
farewell ? " 

The mother looked at me with frightened eyes. " She could not 
tell," she answered. " Antoine had grown so fierce, she dared not 
ask him. Somehow, since he knew he must lose his wife, and she 
slipped from his grasp into Death's, he loved her with a stronger, 
fiercer love than ever in his passionate days he had given to Therese ; 
and he begrudged every word and look given to another. He 
was jealous even of her." 

And the woman went her way, weeping as she went. 

Now I was bitter indeed. So this coarse man, who had killed my 
pretty flower, was her master in death as in life ; and he denied me 
even the poor consolation of one last word. What a strange triumph 
was his over the loving heart he had broken ! 

The next day, with my rod as a pretence, I climbed a great hill-top, 
and sat among the solitudes of the mountain, till faith in God's good- 
ness, growing from the peace and stillness and beauty of the earth, 
wrung that drop of bitterness from out my heart. 

Wending my way homewards among the evening shadows, I met 
the Cure. 

" Come with me," he said. " Eulalie has asked for you." 



240 Antoiney tJie Blacksmith. 

And now I hesitated. " I fear," I said, " to go. Perhaps my 
indignation for that man will not hold itself calmly quiet, even in her 
presence." 

** You will not see him," said the Cure. 

In another moment I was kneeling by her couch. And if before I 
saw her face I had longed to say — " Could you have loved a man 
who would have made you a lady, and sheltered you from the 
rough wind and the cold hand of poverty and ill ? " I longed no 
more to utter such wild and selfish words, when her dying eyes 
looked gratefully into mine, and she thanked me humbly for the 
kindness I had done her. 

Ah ! then I sank down into the depths of humiliation. Kindness ? 
She, an angel, just going to heaven, thanking me, a poor worm on 
earth, for kindness ! 

What was it ? A little food — a little wine. Great heavens ! what 
poor creatures we are, when we exact gratitude for such puny gifts as 
these ! Gifts given to angels — for such, many times and oft, are the 
poor and dying, though we know it not. 

Then she put out her hand to me \ but I, looking at her through 
a mist of tears, did not see it till her slender fingers touched mine, 
and drew me down towards her. 

" Forgive Antoine," she whispered, and a deep blush came over 
her face. " I loved him always. I never loved but him." 

Then I saw that that dream of mine, hidden in my heart, had 
reached her, I know not how, and thrown a shade of fear and sorrow 
in her soul for me. 

" God bless you, Eulalie," I said, " I forgive him. There is not 
a shadow of anger in my heart against him now." 

The next day she died. And in the evening, as I was going down 
to the Cure's, feeling it not good for me to be alone, I saw a lonely 
man in the cemetery digging a grave. I drew near to him. 

It was Antoine, the blacksmith. He was digging the grave for 
Eulalie, his wife. His face was ghastly white, and haggard with 
many tears, and as his stalwart and strong arms raised the earth and 
cast it aside, sobs rent his bosom, till, trembling in his anguish, he 
rested on his spade, and bowed his head upon his clasped hands. 
Then I stole away, and told the Cure what I had seen. 
"Yes," he answered, "Antoine had chosen this dreadful task as a 
penance. He would dig the grave himself, he said, for the heart he 
had broken." 



^-^.^^S^^^b^^SS^'f^ 




M. ELLEN EDWARDS. R- AND E. TAYLOR. 

" At that moment he felt that he loved her very deari y." 



j 



THE ARGOSY. 

APRIL, 1880. 
THE MYSTERIES OF HERON DYKE. 

CHAPTER X. 

A DAY WITH PHILIP CLEEVE. 

WHEN Philip Cleeve opened his eyes the morning after his 
visit to The Lilacs it took him a minute or two to collect 
his thoughts, and call to mind all that had happened during the pre- 
vious evening. In the cold unsympathetic light of early morn his 
overheated fancies of the preceding night seemed to have little more 
substance in them than a dream. He could not quite forget 
Margaret Ducie's liquid black eyes, or the fascination of her smile ; 
but the glamour was gone, and he thought of them as of something 
that could never trouble his peace of mind again. '' It was that 
champagne," thought Philip. 

There was, however, one very tangible fact connected with the 
doings of the preceding night which would not allow itself to be for- 
gotten. He had gambled away Mr. Tiplady's twenty pounds, and it 
would have to be his disagreeable duty this morning to ask his 
mother to make good the loss. Mentally and bodily he felt out of 
sorts, and out of humour with himself and the world. Very little 
breakfast did he eat. Lady Cleeve only came down when it was 
getting time for him to set out for the office. She asked a little 
about his visit of the previous evening, and also after Freddy Bootle, 
who was rather a favourite of hers. 

" Bootle has promised to dine here to-morrow," said Philip. 
" This evening I dine with him at the Rose and Crown." He left 
his seat and went to the window. The disagreeable moment could 
be put off no longer. Going behind Lady Cleeve's chair, he leaned 
over and kissed her. *' Mother, I am going to ask you to do a most 
preposterous thing," he said. 

VOL. XXIX. ' R 



242 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 

" Not many times in your life, dear, have you done that," she 
answered. " But what is it ? " 

" I want you to give me twenty-five pounds." 

" Twenty-five pounds is a large sum, Philip — that is, a large sum 
for me. But I suppose you would not ask me for it unless you really 
need it." 

*' Certainly not, mother. I need it for a very special purpose 
indeed." 

" Can you tell me for what ? " 

" No," said Philip, in a low tone. ** It — it is for someone," he 
rather lamely added. 

*' You are going to lend it ! Well, Philip, if it is for some worthy 
friend who is in want, I will say nothing," said Lady Cleeve, who 
had implicit confidence in her son. " You shall have the money." 

Philip's face was burning. He turned to the window again. 

" Do you know that next Tuesday will be your birthday, Philip ?" 
asked his mother. " You will be twenty-two. How the years fly as 
we grow old ! Your asking for this money brings to my mind some- 
thing which I did not intend to mention to you till your birthday was 
actually here ; but, there is no reason why I should not tell you now. 
Can you guess, my dear boy, what amount I have saved up, and 
safely put away for you in NuUington Bank ? But how should it 
be possible for you to guess ? " — Philip had turned by this time, and 
was staring at his mother. 

" I have saved up twelve hundred pounds," continued Lady 
Cleeve. " Yes, Philip, twelve hundred pounds; and on the day you 
are twenty-two the amount in full will be transferred into your name, 
and will become your sole property." 

" Mother ! " was all that the young man could say in that first 
moment of surprise. Then he took her hand and kissed it. 

She smiled, and stroked his curls fondly. " I need hardly tell 
you, Philip, that the hope I have had, all along, was that my savings 
might ultimately be of use in advancing your interests in whatever 
profession you might finally choose. You have now been two 
years with Mr. Tiplady, and I gather that you are quite satisfied 
to remain with him. I have had a little quiet chat with Mr. 
Tiplady : you know that he and I are very old friends. I named to 
him the amount I had lying by me in the Bank, and hinted to him 
that he might do worse than take you into partnership. His reply 
was that he had never hitherto thought about a partner, but that 
the idea was worth consideration, more especially as he had some 
thought of retiring from business in the course of a few years. There 
the matter was left, and I have had no talk with him since, but I 
think the opening would be a most excellent one for you." 

*' Twelve hundred pounds seems a lot of money to hand over to 
old Tiplady," said Philip, with rather a long face. 

<« Why * old ' Tiplady, dear ? He is younger than I am," said 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 243 

Lady Cleeve, with a faint smile. " His business is excellent and 
superior, as you know ; one in which, if you join him, you may rise 
to eminence. Mr. Tiplady seemed to doubt whether twelve hundred 
pounds was a sufficient sum to induce him to take you into partner- 
ship. And of course it seems ridiculously small, compared with the 
advantages. But I suppose he thinks your connections would go for 
something — and he is too well off for money to be an object with 
him. At first you would take but a small share." 

Philip shrugged his shoulders and whistled under his breath. 
" We can talk of that another time," he said. *' How can I thank 
you enough, mother mine, for this wonderful gift ? You are a 
veritable fairy queen." 

In truth, he could not think where so much money had come 
from. Twelve hundred pounds ! He knew the extent of his 
mother's income and what proportion of it, of late years, had found 
its way into his own pocket -, but he did not know that his mother, 
in view of some such contingency as the present one, had begun to 
save and pinch and put away a i^^^ pounds now and again even 
before her husband's death — many years before. The magic of 
compound interest had done the rest. 

Philip Cleeve carried a light heart with him that morning as he 
set out for the office, and the twenty-five pounds given him by 
his mother. He had not only got out of his present difficulty 
easily and without trouble, but in a few short days he would be a 
capitalist on his own account ; he would be one of those favoured 
mortals, a man with a balance at his banker's and a cheque-book of 
his own in his pocket. He could hardly believe in the reality of his 
good fortune. As for handing over in toto to Mr. Tiplady the sum 
that was coming thus unexpectedly into his possession — it was a 
matter that required consideration, very grave consideration indeed. 
But he would have plenty of time to think about that afterwards. 

As he crossed the market-place he stopped to look in the window 
of Thompson the jeweller. There was a gold hunting-watch lying in it 
that he had often admired. In a few days, should he be so minded, 
he might make it his own. And that pretty signet ring. The price 
of it was only five guineas — a mere bagatelle to a man with twelve 
hundred pounds. Hitherto he had never worn a ring, but other 
young men wore such things, and there was no reason now why he 
should not do the same. A minute or two later he passed his tailor. 
" Good morning, Dobson," he said with a smile. *' I shall look you 
up in a day or two." 

Having to pass the Rose and Crown Hotel on his way to the 
office, he thought he might as well look up Freddy Bootle. But 
that gentleman was not yet downstairs, so Philip set out again. As 
he passed Welland's, the florist, he saw two magnificent bouquets 
in the window. All at once it struck him that it would not be amiss 
to pay a morning call at The Lilacs and present Mrs. Ducie with one 



244 ^-^^^ Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

of the bouquets. Without pausing to reflect, he entered the shop. 
He was waited on by pretty Mary Welland, the florist's lame daughter, 
by whose deft fingers the flowers had been arranged. After a little 
smiling chat, he and Mary being old acquaintances, he chose one of 
the bouquets and had it wrapped up in tissue paper. The price was 
half a guinea, but to Philip, in the mood in which he then was, half 
a guinea seemed a matter of little moment. 

Philip had started on his way again, when he encountered Maria 
Kettle. They both started as their eyes met, and a guilty flush 
mounted to Philip's brow. Maria at once held out her hand, and 
her glance fell on the bouquet in its envelope of tissue paper. All 
in a moment it flashed into Philip's mind that to-day was Maria's 
birthday. There was little more than the difference of a week 
between their ages. 

" Good morning, Philip," began Maria. " Papa and I have been 
wondering what had become of you. You have only been to see us 
once since we got back." 

"The fact is," said Philip in a hesitating way, very unusual with 
him, " I have been much engaged — Bootle is here, now, too, and he 
has taken up a good deal of my time. But I have not forgotten 

that this is your birthday, Maria, and " here he paused and 

looked at the bouquet. " In fact, I was on my way to " then 

he hesitated again and held out the bouquet. 

"You were on the way to the vicarage," said Maria, with a smile, 
" and these pretty flowers are for me. I know they are pretty before 
I look at them. It was kind of you to remember my birthday." 

Philip felt immensely relieved. "Accept them with my love, 
Maria," he whispered, and at that moment he felt that he loved her 
very dearly. Then he pressed one of her hands in his and spoke 
the good wishes customary on such occasions. A bright, glad look 
came into Maria's eyes, and her pale cheek flashed at Philip's 
words. He turned and walked a little way with her, and then they 
parted. 

Philip sighed as he turned away. What an air of quiet goodness 
there was about Maria ! How sweet and saintly she looked in her 
dress of homely blue with the sunlight shining on her ! " If she had 
lived five hundred years ago, her face would have been painted as 
that of some mediaeval saint," muttered Philip to himself. " She is 
far away too good to be the wife of such a shuflling weak-minded 
fellow as I am." 

When he reached the florist's shop on his way back to the oflice, 
the remaining bouquet was still in the window. He hesitated a 
moment and then went in. " I will take that other bouquet if you 
please, Miss Welland," he said : but Mary noticed that there was no 
smile on his face this time, as she tied up the flowers. Philip set 
off in the direction of The Lilacs. He was dissatisfied with himself 
for what he had done, there was a sore feeling at work within him, 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 245 

and yet his steps seemed drawn irresistibly towards the roof that 
sheltered Margaret Ducie. 

He had got about half way to the cottage when he was overtaken 
by Captain Lennox in his dog-cart. " 'Morning, Cieeve," called out 
the Captain; " where are you off to in such a hurry ? " 

" I didn't know that I was in a hurry," said Philip as he faced 
round, while that wretched tell-tale flush, which he could not succeed 
in keeping down, mounted to his face. - *' The fact is, I was on my 
way to the cottage," he added. " I thought that I might venture to 
call on Mrs. Ducie and ask her acceptance of a few flowers." 

'^ And she will be very pleased to see you, I do not doubt," 
answered Lennox. " I am on the way home myself; so jump up and 
I will give you a lift." 

When they reached the cottage they found Mrs. Ducie practising 
some songs which she had just received from London. She wore a 
dress of some soft, creamy material embroidered with flowers, with 
ornamental silver pins in her hair and a silver snake round one of 
her wrists. She accepted Philip's flowers very graciously. " How 
charmingly they are arranged," she said ; " and what an eye for 
artistic effect. I must try to paint them before they begin to 
fade." 

Philip begged that he might not interrupt her singing ; so she 
resumed her seat at the piano, and he stationed himself behind her 
and turned over the leaves of her music. Now that he was here and 
in her presence, and so near to her that he could have stooped and 
touched her hair with his lips, the infatuation of last night crept over 
him again with irresistible force. He was like a man bewitched, 
from whom all power of volition seems stolen away. She looked to 
him even more beautiful this morning in the soft cool twilight of the 
drawing-room than when seen by lamplight yesterday evening. No- 
where had he seen a woman like her, or one who exercised over him 
so nameless but all-powerful a charm. By-and-by she persuaded him 
to sing too. 

At last Philip remembered that he must go. The oflice was not 
pressed for work just now, and Mr. Tiplady had given him a partial 
holiday during Bootle's stay : but Philip felt that there was reason in 
all things. Moreover, Tiplady was away himself to-day. 

*' When the cat's away," laughed Captain Lennox, upon Philip's 
saying this. 

" I can drive you into the town if you like, Mr. Cieeve," said Mrs. 
Ducie, who had just reappeared, dressed for going out. '* My ponies 
are at the gate." 

Philip accepted the ofler gladly. " I shall see you later in the 
day," were Lennox's last words to him as he was driven away. 

Mrs. Ducie was an accomplished whip, and had a thorough 
mastery over her high-spirited ponies. Very few minutes sufficed to 
bring the party to Nullington. They had slackened their pace a little 



246 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

while a load of timber drew out of the way, when IMaria Kettle stepped 
out of a chemist's shop just as they were passing the door. She saw 
Mrs. Ducie and Philip, and at the same moment they recognised 
her. A look that was partly surprise and partly trouble came into 
her eyes ; but she bowed gravely and passed on. Mrs. Ducie smiled 
and bowed ; Philip, colouring furiously, greeted Maria with an 
awkward nod, and then turned away his head. How thoroughly 
ashamed of himself he felt ! 

" What a charming young lady Miss Kettle is," said ^Mrs. Ducie a 
minute later. 

Philip gave a keen look at his companion's face, but there was 
nothing to be read there. " I was not aware that you knew Miss 
Kettle," he said a little stiffly. 

*' I have had the pleasure of meeting her three or four times 
since her return, and Ferdinand and I attend church regularly. I 
never met anyone who with so much goodness was so entirely un- 
affected." 

It was like heaping coals of fire on Philip's head for him to have 
to listen to these words. Nothing more was said till the carriage 
drew up for Philip to alight. Mrs. Ducie held out her hand. " I 
hope we shall see you at the cottage again soon, Mr. Cleeve," she 
graciously said. '* I assure you that both to my brother and 
myself your visits will always be a pleasure." 

Philip replied suitably, and went his way. He was grievously 
annoyed at having been seen by Maria Kettle in the act of driving 
out with Mrs. Ducie ; yet he could not forget how charming Margaret 
was, and how kindly she had received his flowers. 

Scarcely had he at length entered the office when Freddy Bootle 
came in, asking him to take holiday for the rest of the day. The 
old clerk, Mr. Best, manager in Mr. Tiplady's absence, was agree- 
able to it. Philip was a favourite of his, and there was not much 
doing. 

Away went Philip and his friend gaily, arm-in-arm. Philip's heels 
were always light where pleasure was concerned. After eating some 
luncheon at the Rose and Crown, they adjourned to the billiard- 
room. Only then did it occur to Philip that the bank-notes his 
mother had given him in the morning were in his pocket still. He 
ought to have handed them over to Mr. Best ; he had meant to do 
so ; but other matters had put it out of his head. 

Lord Camberley and Captain Lennox came in to dinner, in answer 
to the invitation of Mr. Bootle. Afterwards they all sat talking, over 
their coffee and cigars. Captain Lennox, the thought striking him, 
enquired of Bootle whether his lost watch had turned up. 

" Not it," said Freddy. " It will never turn up, any more than 
your purse will. It was an odd thing, come to think of it, that 
Mrs. Carlyon should have been robbed on the same night. Just as 
if the same thief had done it all ! " 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 247 

Lord Camberley pricked up his ears. " How was it?" he asked. 
** What were the robberies ? " And Mr. Bootle related them. 

" Pretty good cheek — to leave the case under the curtains and 
walk off with the baubles ! " observed his lordship. *' I suppose it 
was too big to carry away ? " 

" Too big to carry away unobserved, and too big to be stowed away 
in a coat, I take it," said Captain Lennox. " How large was it, 
Cleeve ? — you saw it, I think. The fellow must have disposed of the 
articles about his pockets." 

*' How large?" repeated Philip, who was sitting with his chair 
tilted and his head thrown back, puffing forth volumes of smoke in 
silence, "oh — about that large" — making a movement with his hand. 
"Just give me my coffee-cup, will you, Freddy." 

Later, the party sat down to cards. They began by playing 
Napoleon, as on the previous evening ; but this was changed for 
the still more dangerous game of Unlimited Loo. At neither one 
game nor the other was Philip Cleeve anything like a match for those 
experienced players, Camberley and Lennox, and he grew nervous 
and excitable. When the party broke up Philip had not only lost the 
twenty-five pounds given him in the morning by his mother, but 
fifteen pounds more, for which Lord Camberley held his I O U. As 
for Freddy Bootle, he did not much care for cards, and he played 
with a severe indifference to either the smiles or frowns of fortune : 
if he lost, it was a matter of little consequence to him ; if he won, it 
was a i&'N sovereigns more in the pocket of a man who had already 
more money than he knew what to do with. 

Philip rose from the table with haggard eyes, flushed face, and 
trembling hands. " I will redeem my scrap of paper in the 
morning," he remarked to his lordship. 

" All right, old man : you will find me in the billiard-room about 
four o'clock," answered Camberley. " Only look here, there's no 
need to be in such a desperate hurry, you know." He had a dim 
suspicion that Philip was not over well off in money matters. 

" I shall be in the billiard-room at four," retorted Philip with some 
hauteur. He resented the implication in Camberley's words — that per- 
haps it might not be convenient to pay the fifteen pounds so quickly. 
His poverty was a matter that concerned no one but himself. 

As he walked home alone under the cold light of the stars, and 
went back in memory to the events of this evening and the last, 
they seemed to him nothing more than a wretched phantasmagoria, 
in which only the ghost of his real self had played a part. He was 
a loser to the extent of forty pounds. And where was he to raise 
the twenty-five pounds for Tiplady, or the fifteen for Camberley ? 
There was only one way — by applying to his friend Bootle. It 
was a disagreeable necessity, but Philip saw no help for it. Bootle 
was rich and generous, and would lend him the money in a moment. 
It would only be needed for a few days. The very first cheque he 



248 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

drew, after coming into that twelve hundred pounds, should be one 
to repay Freddy. 

And, thus easily settling difficulties, IMr. Philip finished up by 
vowing to himself that he would never touch another card. 

CHAPTER XL 

A VISIT FROM MRS. CARLYOX. 

Dr. Spreckley felt like an angry man. When he read Squire 
Denison's curt note — curt as to the part of his dismissal — his first 
impulse was to go up to the Hall and demand an explanation 
from his old friend and patient. He had been forced into a corner 
as it were, been driven into telling a certain disagreeable truth, and 
now he was discarded for having done so, and a young practitioner 
of less experience and no note, was taken on in his place ! It 
was very unjust. But Dr. Spreckley never did anything in a hurry. 
He put the Squire's note away, saying, " I'll sleep upon it." 

On the morrow he found that Dr. Jago was really in attendance 
on the Squire. Dr. Spreckley met him on his way thither in a 
hired one-horse fly, and received a gracious wave of the hand by 
way of greeting. " I'll not interfere," exploded the old Doctor in 
the bitterness of his heart ; " I'll never darken Denison's doors 
again. Unless he sends for me," he added a minute later. '' And 
for all the good he can do him " — with a contemptuous glance after 
Jago — "that won't be long first." 

Meanwhile, at the Hall, the Squire was soothing and explaining 
the change to Ella, who regarded it with dismay. 

" I don't like Dr. Jago, Uncle Gilbert. And Dr. Spreckley was 
our friend of many years." 

" And why don't you like Dr. Jago, lassie ? " 

" I don't know. There's something about him that repels me ; 
it lies in his eyes, I think. I never spoke to him but once." 

''When you know more of him, you will like him better,'^ 
returned the Squire. " I am not sure that / like him much, 
personally. But if he cures me — what shall you say then ? Come 
now 1 " 

" I would say then that I should like him for ever," replied 
Ella, laughing. 

"Well, child, he is hoping to do it. And I think he will." 

**Is this true, Uncle Gilbert?" 

The Squire patted her cheek. "\Vhat a disbelieving little girl 
it is ! Jago is a wonderfully clever man, Ella ; there's no doubt 
of that ; he has studied in foreign schools, and he is about to try 
an entirely new kind of treatment upon me. He thinks it will 
turn up trumps, and so do I ? " 

Ella drew a long, relieved breath. " Oh I am so glad, dear 
uncle ! I will make him welcome whenever he comes." 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 249 

*' It is a month to-day since I was outside the house," went on 
the Squire. *' Jago tells me that he shall get me out again in three 
or four days. The man is a man of power ; I see it, I feel it. Give 
him opportunity, and he will make a great name for himself. We 
will go about again as we used to, Ella ; you and I. Why not ? " 

Ella's heart leaped; she believed the good news. Her uncle 
had seemed very poorly indeed lately, but she did not suspect he 
had any incurable malady, or that he was in any danger. 

Dr. Jago came to Heron Dyke day after day. In a short while 
the Squire was walking about the grounds, leaning on Ella's arm 
or on Hubert Stone's ; and he would be seen again driving through 
Nullington, his niece seated by his side. Ella had grown to think 
kindly of Dr. Jago ; but that old vague feeling of dislike, or distrust, 
she could not quite get rid of. " There is a look in his eyes I 
never saw in the eyes of anyone else," she said to herself. " He 
interests me, and yet repels me." 

"The Squire will last out yet to will away his property; ay, 
and longer than that," cried the gossips of the neighbourhood, as 
they watched the improvement in him. " It will take more than 
two doctors to kill a Denzon." 

And thus October came in. 

About the middle of that month the Squire sent an invitation 
to Mrs. Carlyon. It was partly in answer to a letter received from 
her — in which she told them that a certain projected plan of hers, 
that of going abroad for the winter, was still in abeyance, for she 
did not much like the idea of going alone. Higson would attend 
her of course: but who was Higson ? — what she needed was a friend. 

" She shall take you, Ella," said the Squire, after the letter of 
invitation was despatched. 

" Take me, uncle ! Oh dear, no." 

" And why not, pray, when I say yes ? " 

" I could not leave you. Uncle Gilbert." 

** Oh, indeed ! Could you not, lassie ? " 

*' Suppose you were to be taken ill — and I ever so many hundred 
miles away ! Oh, uncle dear, how could you think of it ! " 

*' Well, I hope I am not likely now to be taken ill. Jago is doing 
me a marvellous deal of good. Don't fear that. I should like you 
to go abroad for the winter, lassie, and if Gertrude Carlyon goes, we — 
we will see about it." 

Mrs. Carlyon arrived in due course. It had previously been 
arranged that, if she did go abroad, she should come to them for a 
short visit first. It seemed to her that she saw a great change for 
the worse in Mr. Denison : but she was discreet enough to keep her 
thoughts on the matter to herself, and chose rather to congratulate 
him on looking so well. 

"Ay," said he, complacently, "the new doctor understands me." 

" And don't you think Dr. Spreckley did ? " asked Mrs. Carlyon. 



250 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

" Not of late. Spreckley could not do for me what this man 
will do." 

On the second day of her visit, when they were alone, the Squire 
questioned Mrs. Carlyon about her plans for the winter. " Have 
you decided on them, Gertrude ? " he asked. 

" Not quite," she said. " I suppose, though, I shall go abroad, 
probably to the South of France. This climate tried my chest 
severely last winter." 

'* Ay, I remember. Best for you to go out of it for the next few 
months." 

" An old friend of mine, Mrs. Ord, had decided to accompany 
me, and now circumstances have intervened to prevent it. That is 
why I hesitate. I don't care to go so far without a companion." 

" You shall take Ella. Come now." 

Mrs. Carlyon looked up eagerly. " Take Ella 1 Are you in 
earnest ? " 

"Nevermore so. Why not? I had meant to make you and 
London a present of her for the winter : if you go abroad, so much 
the better. It will be the greater change for her — and she needs 
change." 

" I shall certainly no longer hesitate if I may have Ella," spoke 
Mrs. Carlyon gladly. " But — I should probably stay away four or 
five months." 

" If you stay away six months it would be all the better. To tell 
you the truth, Gertrude," he continued, seeing Mrs. Carlyon look 
surprised, " I do not intend my pretty one to be here during the 
dark months, and you must take her out of my hands. She has 
never been quite the same since that curious affair up yonder " — 
pointing over his shoulder in the direction of the north wing. 

Mrs. Carlyon began to understand. " You mean — about Katha- 
rine Keen ? " 

" Ay. Since the girl disappeared " 

" What a most extraordinary thing that was ! " interrupted Mrs. 
Carlyon. " Can you in any way account for it, Squire ? " 

'' There's no way at all of accounting for it. Bodikins, no ! " 

" I meant, have you any private theory of your own — as to what 
can have become of her ? " 

** I know no more what could have become of her than that,''^ 
returned the Squire, touching his stick, and then striking it on the 
ground to enforce emphasis. "It has troubled me above a bit, Ger- 
trude, I can tell you. She was as nice and inoffensive a young girl as 
could be. Only the day before she disappeared she ran all across 
the garden to me to put my umbrella up, because a drop or two of 
rain began to fall. You can't think what a modest, kind, good little 
thing she was." 

" I always thought it," assented Mrs. Carlyon. " And I esteem 
her mother ; she is so hardworking and respectable. What a trial 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 251 

it must have been for her, poor woman ! I shall go in and see 
her before I leave." 

"Ay. Why not? Well, it is altogether a very mysterious and 
unpleasant thing to have happened in this old house, and my pretty 
lassie, I see, does not forget it. She seems to mope, and to get a bit 
melancholy now and then. I fancy her eyes are not so bright as 
they used to be ; she doesn't talk so much, or sing so much about 
the house. It's just as if there was always something hanging over 
her." 

*' Of course she must have a change," spoke Mrs, Carlyon. 

" She was all the better for her visit to London in spring, but 
she was not long enough away," went on the Squire. " You know 
how lonely we are here. My health won't allow of my seeing much 
company, and Ella doesn't seem to care about extending her 
acquaintances. It will be horribly dull for her here this winter, with 
nobody in the house but a sick and cantankerous old man. I wish 
she could get right away out of England for six or eight months. 
She would come back to us next spring as merry as a blackbird. 
Why not, now ? " 

" I need not say how glad I should be to take Ella with me," said 
Mrs. Carlyon. " But there's one question — would she go ? — would 
she leave you ? " 

" Odds bodikins ! " cried the Squire angrily, '' is the child to set up 
her will against mine — and yours ? It is for her good — and, go she 
must." 

" Do you think you are in a state to be left for a whole winter 
alone ? " debated Mrs. Carlyon, remembering how greatly she at first 
thought him changed. " Will Ella think it ? " 

" I ! why I am twenty per cent, better than I was a month ago. 
There's no fear for me. And, if I became ill at any time, couldn't 
you be telegraphed to ? I say that Ella must have a change for her 
own sake ; and what I say, I mean. Come now ! " 

" Yes ; it would no doubt be better for her," assented Mrs. 
Carlyon, slowly; but, Mr. Denison thought, dubiously. 

" Look here, Gertrude : for a woman you've got as sharp a share 
of sense as here and there one," cried he, lowering his tone as 
he bent forward towards her. " People have set up all kinds of 
superstitious notions about the affair ; the women here hardly dare 
stir out of their kitchens after dusk. I find a notion prevails that 
Katherine is still in the house — is seen sometimes at her window at 
night. Now, as she can't be in the house alive, you — you must see 
what that means — folks are such fools, the uneducated ones. But, 
I put it to you, Gertrude — with this absurd nonsense being whispered 
about the house, whether it is fit the lassie should spend her winter 
in it ? Eh, now, come ! " 

He glanced keenly for a moment at Mrs. Carlyon, as if to see 
whether his words impressed her. And they certainly had. " No it 



252 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 



is not," she assented, speaking firmly, " and I will take her out of it. 
But — you speak of the young women servants, I suppose, Gilbert ? 
It is not at all seemly that they should be allowed to say such things. 
See Katherine at her window ! How absurd ! What next ? " 

" And profess to hear weird sounds about the passages, whisperings, 
and such like," added the Squire, as if he had pleasure in repeating 
this. 

" What is Dorothy Stone about, to allow it ? " 

" Dorothy is worse than they are : she always was the most super- 
stitious woman I ever knew. Not a step dare she stir about the 
house now after dark. Old Aaron is in a rare rage with her; 
threatens to shake her sometimes," added the Squire with a grim 
smile. 

*' There can^t be anything in it, you know, Gilbert." 

** I don't know," he answered : and Mrs. Carlyon stared at him. 
"After the disappearance of Katherine into — into air, as may be 
said, one may well believe any marvel. Eh, now," continued the 
Squire. " At any rate, Gertrude, it seems to me that we may forgive 
these poor ignorant people who do believe. But, to go back to the 
question : Heron Dyke is getting an ill name for mystery, see you, and 
I do not choose that my innocent lassie shall pass the winter in it." 

" Quite right ; I perceive all now, and I will take her out of it, 
Gilbert. At least for two or three of the dark months." 

" Two or three months won't do," cried the Squire testily. 
" It would be of no use. She must not come back until the days are 
long and bright." 

" Well, well, I see how anxious you are for her," said Mrs. 
Carlyon ; who, however, could hardly feel it right to let him be so 
long alone. " In any case, you would like her to be home before 
your birthday." 

The Squire did not answer. He seemed to be struggling with 
some inward emotion, and a curious spasm shot across his face. 
Mrs. Carlyon half rose from her chair, but sat down again. 

"Why before my birthday ?" said he at length. "It's no more 
to me than any other day. I never make a festival of it as some 
idiots do — as if it was something to rejoice over. She needn't come 
back for my birthday unless I send for her. I shall be sure to send^ 
if I want her." 

" If you became worse — or weaker — you would send ? " 

"Ay, ay — why not? Does not one want dear ones by us in sick- 
ness ? Not but, what with Jago's treatment, I seem to have taken 
a new lease of life. Look here : I should like the child to see 
Italy." 

"And so she shall. And she will enjoy it, I am sure, provided she 
can make her mind easy at leaving you. Ella is not like other 
girls ; she is more reasonable," added Mrs. Carlyon. " Look at some 
flighty young things — thinking of nothing but of getting married." 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 253 

" Bodikins ! the women are generally keen enough after that, now- 
adays. Ella never seems to care for the young fellows. Young Hanerly 
wanted her, came to me about it ; but she'd have nothing to say to 
him. Whomsoever she marries, he will have to change his name to 
Denison. None but a Denison must inherit Heron Dyke." 

The thought occurred to Mrs. Carlyon — and it was on the tip of 
her tongue to say it — that Ella's husband might not inherit Heron 
Dyke. If the ailing man before her did not live to his next birth- 
day, it must all pass away from Ella. But she kept silence. 

" I suppose you never by any chance hear from your cousin 
Gilbert ? " she presently asked, the train of thought prompting the 
question. 

Mr. Denison's face darkened ; a cold, hard look came into his 
eyes. He turned sharply round and faced his questioner, but she 
was directly regarding the smouldering logs on the hearth. *' Hear 
from my cousin Gilbert!" he said in deep harsh tones. "And pray 
why should I want to hear from him ? I would sooner receive a 
message from— from the commonest beggar. He would never have 
the impudence to write to me. Body 'o me! Gilbert, forsooth! He 
has his spies round the place night and day, I know that ; watching 
and waiting for the moment the breath will go out of me. But they 
will be deceived — they and their master : yes, Gertrude Carlyon, I tell 
you that they will be deceived ! I am not dead yet, nor likely to 
die. I shall live to see my seventieth birthday — I know it, I feel it 
— and not one acre of the old estates shall go to that man ! " 

He spoke with strange energy. It was evident that the old hatred 
towards his cousin still burned as fiercely in his heart as it had done 
forty years before. 

*' I am afraid that son of his will prove no credit to the name he 
bears," Mrs. Carlyon remarked after a pause: and the Squire looked up 
but did not speak. " I am told that some time ago he had a terrible 
quarrel with his father. They separated in anger and he has not 
been home since. He is supposed to have enlisted as a common 
soldier and gone out to India." 

Mr. Denison gave a sort of savage snarl. "Ay, ay, that's good 
news — rare news," he said. " I would give that boy a thousand 
pounds to keep him away from his father if I only knew where he 
was — two thousand to anyone who could point out his grave. An 
only son too. Ah, ah ! Rare news 1 " 

At that moment Dr. Jago came in. When he saw the Squire's 
face, he looked anything but pleased. " Madam," said he to Mrs. 
Carlyon, " this must not be. If Mr. Denison is to get permanently 
better, he must be kept free from excitement. It might counteract 
all the good I am doing him." 

Mrs. Carlyon proposed a walk to Ella that lovely October after- 
noon, after making an enquiry or two in the household about the 



254 ^-^^^ Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

unpleasant topic touched on by the Squire. The air was mellow and 
gracious ; and they took their way to the sands, seating themselves 
on the very spot where Ella had once sat with Edward Conroy. 
Never did she sit there but she thought of him; of what he had 
said; of his looks and tones. She wondered whether he was in 
Africa ; she wondered when she should hear of him. 

It was low water, and where the vanished tide had been was now 
a tract of firm yellow sand with hardly a pebble in it ; excellent to 
walk upon. Not till the solitude of the shore was about them did 
Mrs. Carlyon say a word to her companion on the subject that 
she had to break to her — their journeying together abroad. 

Ella was astonished, hurt ; perhaps even a little indignant. 
Could her uncle really wish her to leave him and to go away for so 
long when he needed companionship and care ? Mrs. Carlyon quietly 
soothed her, persuaded, reassured her ; and finally told her that it 
was best it should so be. 

Allowing her niece to go in alone, Mrs. Carlyon turned her 
steps towards the little inn — the Leaning Gate. She had her curiosity 
about the doings of that past snowy night in February, just as other 
people had. The conversation with the Squire and with Dorothy 
Stone only served to whet it, to puzzle her more than ever, if that 
were possible ; and to enhance her sympathy for poor Katherine's 
family. 

Mrs. Keen was waiting upon a customer who had halted at the inn 
for the day ; Susan had taken her work into the garden. Mrs. 
Carlyon found her there seated on a rustic bench ; she was hemming 
some new chamber towels. It was a large and pretty garden, filled 
with homely flowers in summer and with useful vegetables. A great 
bush of Michaelmas daisies was in blossom now, near the end of the 
bench. Susan sat without a bonnet, and the sunlight fell on her 
smooth, brown hair, so soft and fine, just the same pretty hair that 
Katherine had : indeed, there had been a great resemblance between 
the sisters. She looked neat as usual — a small white apron on 
over her dark gown, a white collar at the neck. When she saw Mrs. 
Carlyon she got up to make her curtsey, and the tears filled her 
mournful grey eyes. That lady sat down by her and began to speak 
in a sympathising tone of the past trouble. 

" It is not past, ma'am," said Susan, in answer to a remark ; " it 
never will be." 

" My good girl, I wanted to talk to you," said Mrs. Carlyon ; "I 
came on purpose. What I have heard about you grieves me so 

much " But here she stopped, for jSIrs. Keen came running 

from the house to greet the visitor. The landlady was a comely 
woman with ample petticoats and a big white apron. 

Naturally, there could be only the one theme of conversation. The 
tears ran down ISIrs. Keen's ruddy cheeks as they pursued it ; Susan 



I 



I 



The Mysteries of Hero7t Dyke. 255 

was pale, more delicate-looking than ever, and her eyes, dry now, had 
a far-off look in them. How greatly she put Mrs. Carlyon in mind of 
Katherine that lady did not choose to say. 

" I can understand all your distress, all your trouble," spoke she in a 
sympathising tone. "And the uncertainty as to what became of her 
is the most cruel phase of all." 

" Something must have interrupted her when she had just begun to 
undress; that seems to be evident, ma'am," said the mother. "She 
had taken off her cap and apron, her collar and ribbon — and all else 
that she had on disappeared with her. The question is, what that 
something could be. Susan thinks — but I'm afraid she thinks a 
great deal that is but idleness," broke off the mother, with a fond, 
pitying glance at the girl. 

" What does Susan think ? " asked Mrs. Carlyon. 

Susan lifted her white face to answer. The vacant look it mostly 
wore was very perceptible now ; her tone became dull and monoton- 
ous. " Ma'am," she said, " I think that when Katherine had just got 
those few things off, somebody came to her door, and — and " 

" And what ? " said Mrs. Carlyon, for the girl had stopped. 

" I wish I knew what. I wish I could think what ; but I can't. 
Some days I think he must have taken her out of the room, and 
some days I think he killed her in it. It fairly dazes me, ma'am." 

" Whom do you mean by ' he ' ? " again questioned Mrs. Carlyon, 
wondering whether the girl had anyone in particular in her mind. 

" It must have been some stranger, some wicked man that we don't 
know — or a woman," answered Susan, slowly. " Miss Winter had 
gone down then and was out of hearing." 

" But there was no stranger at Heron Dyke that night, either man 
or woman," objected Mrs. Carylon. " Only the women servants, old 
Aaron, the Squire, and Miss Winter." 

" Somebody might have been hid in the house. She'd not go out 
of the room, ma'am, of her own accord." 

" Not unless she had something to go for," said Mrs. Carlyon ; 
" though I do not see what it was likely to be," she slowly added. 
" Or, if she did go out, why did she not go back again ? " 

"Ma'am," spoke the landlady, "against that theory there's the fact 
that she left the candle behind her. Miss Winter found it burnt 
down to the socket. If she had gone out of the room she would 
have taken the light with her." 

" It is a great mystery," mused Mrs. Carlyon. "What could have 
become of her ? Where can she be ? " 

" She was hurt in some way, or else frightened," said Susan. 
"Screams of terror, those two were, that I heard." 

"With regard to those screams," returned Mrs. Carlyon, "the 
singular thing is that no one else heard them ; no one in the house." 

" Tom Barnet heard them, ma'am, the coachman's boy," interposed 
the mother, smoothing down the sleeve of her lilac cotton gown. "I 



256 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 

can't think there's any doubt but that the screams came from Kathe- 
rine. I'd give — I'd give all I'm worth to know where she is, dead or 
alive." 

''She is inside Heron Dyke!" cried Susan, her voice taking a 
sound of awe. 

*' Nonsense," somewhat impatiently rebuked Mrs. Carlyon. " You 
ought to know that it cannot be, Susan " 

Susan lifted her patient face, a pleading kind of look on it. 
" Ma'am, she's there ; she's there. I've seen her at the window of 
her room in the moonlight ; it's three times now." 

" Run in, Susie ; I thought I heard the gentleman's bell," spoke 
her mother, and Susan gathered up her work and went. But Mrs. 
Carlyon saw it was only a ruse to get rid of her. 

" She is growing almost silly upon the point, ma'am," Mrs. Keen 
began; ''thinking she sees her sister at the window. I believe it's 
all fancy, for my part ; nothing but the reflection of some tree 
branches cast on the window-blind by the moon." 

" Why don't you forbid her going up to Heron Dyke in the dark ? " 
sensibly asked Mrs. Carlyon. " It cannot be good for her." 

" Because, ma'am, I'm feared that if I did her mind would quite 
lose its balance," replied the mother. " I do stop her all I can ; but 
I dare not do it quite always. The going up there to watch the 
windows for Katherine has become like meat and drink to her." 

Mrs. Carlyon sighed. Throughout the interview the landlady had 
never ceased to wipe her tears away ; they rose in spite of her. It 
was altogether a very distressing case, and ]\Irs. Carlyon wished it had 
occurred anywhere rather than at Heron Dyke. 

" I suppose Katherine had no trouble ? She was not in bad 
spirits ? " she remarked. 

" She had no trouble in the world that I know of; there was none 
that she could have. Susan met her in Nullington the morning of 
the very day it happened, and she was as blithe as could be. Miss 
Winter was making some flannel petticoats for the poor little neglected 
Tysons, and found she had not got enough flannel to cut out the 
last, so she sent Katherine for another yard of it, charging her to 
make haste. Well, ma'am, Susan met her, as I tell you ; and, as 
Katherine was going back to the Hall, she saw me standing at the 
door here. * I hear you have heard from John, mother,' she called 
out ; and her face was bright and her voice cheerful as a lark's ; 
* Susan says she will bring me up the letter this evening.' ' Come in 
for it now, child,' I answered her. ' No,' she said, ' if I came in I 
should be sure to stop talking with you, and Miss Winter is waiting 
for what I've been to fetch. You'll let Susan bring it up this evening, 
mother.' * If the weather holds up,' I answered, glancing at the 
skies, which seemed to threaten a fall of some sort ; ' but her cold 
hangs about her, and I can't let her go out at night if rain comes on.' 
With that she nodded to me and ran on laughing ; she used to think 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 257 

it a joke, the care I took of Susan. No, ma'am," concluded the 
mother, " my poor Katherine was in no trouble of mind." 

Mrs. Carlyon went back to the Hall full of thought. One thing 
she could not understand — how it was, if Katherine had screamed, 
that she should have been heard out of doors, and not indoors. 
And Mrs. Carlyon, that same evening, when she was dressing for 
dinner, sent Higson for Dorothy Stone, telling the maid she need not 
come back ; and she put the question to Dorothy. 

Mrs. Stone went into a twitter forthwith. The least allusion to the 
subject invariably sent her into one. No, the cry had not been heard 
indoors, she answered. Neither by the master nor Miss Ella, who 
were shut up in the oak sitting-room, nor by her and the maids in the 
kitchen. But the north wing was ever so far off, and she did not 
think they could have heard it. The only one about the house was 
Aaron, and he ought to have heard it, if any scream had been 
screamed. 

" And he did not hear it ? " spoke Mrs. Carlyon. 

" Aaron heard nothing, ma'am," replied the housekeeper. " The 
corridors and passages, above and below, were just as silent as they 
always are, inside this great lonely house at night ; and that's as silent 
as the grave. Aaron was locking-up, and could well have heard any 
scream in the north wing. He was longer than usual that night, as 
it chanced, for he got his oil, and was oiling the front-door lock, 
which had grown a bit rusty. Had there been any noise in the north 
wing, screaming, or what not, he could not have failed to hear it : 
and for that reason he holds to it to this day that there was none ; 
that the screams Susan Keen professed to hear were just her flighty 
fancy." 

" And do you think so, Dorothy ? " 

** Ma'am, I don't know what to say," answered the old woman,, 
pushing back her grey hair ; as she was apt to do when in a puzzle of" 
thought. "I should think it was the girl's fancy but for Tom 
Barnet. Tom holds to it that the two screams were there, sure 
enough, just as Susan does; the last a good deal fainter than the 
first." 

"There's the dinner-gong!" exclaimed Mrs. Carlyon, as the 
sound boomed up from below. "And none of my ornaments on 
yet. Clasp this bracelet for me, will you, Dorothy. We will talk 
more of this another time. Dr. Jago dines here to-night, I hear r 
what a fancy the Squire seems to have taken to him ! " 



CHAPTER XII. 

FAREWELL. 

The day of departure was here, bringing with it Ella's last after- 
noon at Heron Dyke for several weeks, or it might be, for several 

VOL. XXIX. s 



258 The Mysteries of Heroft Dyke. 

months to come. Her uncle's will in the matter, combined with 
Mrs. Carlyon's, had conquered her own. Dr. Jago added his 
influence in the shape of a warning, that his patient must on no 
account be irritated by contradiction or he would not be answerable 
for the consequences. Ella felt that there was no other course open 
to her than to yield ; but she cried many bitter tears in secret. She 
did not want to leave home at all just now, although ten days or 
a fortnight in Paris might have proved a pleasant change. But to go 
away for a whole winter, and so far away too, was certainly something 
that she had never contemplated. It was true that Mr. Denison 
seemed better in health, much better ; but, for all that, she had 
a presentiment which she could not get rid of, that if she left him now 
she should never see him again in this world. Still, she had to obey 
her uncle's wishes. 

And now the last afternoon was here, and waning quickly. She 
had bidden farewell to Maria Kettle, to Lady Cleeve, and all other 
friends ; she had taken her last walk along the shore, her last 
look at the garden and grounds, each familiar spot had been visited 
in turn; and it had seemed to her as though she were bidding 
them farewell for ever. She and Mrs. Carlyon were going up to 
London by the evening train ; they would spend a couple of days in 
town and then cross by the Dover boat. 

Through the leaden-paned windows of Mr. Denison's sitting-room 
the rays of the October sun shone wanly, lighting up a point of 
panelling here and there, or lending a momentary freshness, a 
forgotten grace, to one or other of the faded portraits on the walls. 
As the sick man sat there in his big leathern chair, his dim eyes 
wandered now and again to the motto of his family where, lighted by 
the sun, it shone out in colours blood-red and golden high up in the 
central window. There was a ring of worldly pride in the words, of 
the strength and the glory of possession. "What I have I hold." 
How much longer would he, the living head of the house, continue to 
hold anything of that which earth had given him ? Already the cold 
airs of the grave blew about him : already he seemed to hear the 
dread words, " Ashes to ashes," while from the sexton's clay-stained 
fingers a little earth was crumbled on to his colffin lid. "What I have 
I hold." Vain mockery ! when the grim Captain whispers in your 
ear, and bids you follow him. 

Ella sat on a low hassock at her uncle's knee. One of her hands 
was tightly grasped in his, while his other hand stroked her hair 
fondly. It was a gaunt and bony hand and seemed all unfitted for 
such loving usages. They spoke to each other in low tones 
with frequent pauses between. To any stranger there, who could 
have heard their voices but not their words, it would have seemed as 
if they were discussing some trivial topic of every -day life. But 
both Ella and the Squire had determined that they would keep a strict 
guard over their feelings. Neither of them would let the other see 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 259 

the emotions at work below, though each might guess at their ex- 
istence. Dr. Jago had warned the young lady to make her parting as 
quiet a one as possible : excitement of any kind was so hurtful for him. 
Mr. Denison's proud hard nature could not entirely change itself even 
at a time like the present ; besides which, he wanted to make the 
separation as little distressing to Ella as might be. It may be that he 
felt that if she were to break down at the last moment and betray 
much emotion, his own veneer of stoicism might not prove of much 
avail. 

" I think, Uncle Gilbert, you understand clearly the arrangements 
made for our communicating with each other while I am away?" 
said Ella. 

" I think so, my pretty one. You can go over them again if you 
like." 

" I will write to you once a week and send you a telegram as often 
as we leave one place for another. Hubert Stone will write to me in 
your name every Monday to save you from fatigue ; and you must 
write sometimes yourself. Should your health change in the slightest 
degree for the worse, he will telegraph to me without a moment's delay." 

"That's it : I sha'n't forget," said Mr. Denison. " What with this 
telegraphing, and one thing or another, it will seem as if you were 
no further away than the next village." 

" I shall feel that we are very far apart," said Ella. " You forget 
what a long time it takes to travel from Italy to Heron Dyke." 

" Nothing like the time it used to take when I was a young spark. 
I remember when I went the grand tour as it was called — but there, 
there, we have something else to talk about now. Anyhow, railroads 
are a wonderful invention." 

There were twenty things on Ella's tongue that she would have 
liked to speak of, but that it might be more wise to refrain from. 
Dr. Jago's warning words rarely left her thoughts. 

" Be sure to wrap yourself up warmly when you go out in the 
carriage, uncle." 

" Ay, ay, dearie, I won't forget." 

" I shall come back to you the first week in the new year. Two 
months will be quite long enough to be away from home." 

" We have agreed to see about that, you know, my lassie. I will 
send you word when I feel that I want you, and then you will come. 
Not before, I think — not before." 

It was a topic that Ella dared not pursue further. She kissed his 
hand with tears in her eyes. He patted her cheek lovingly. " Oh ! 
why does he persist so strongly in sending me away ? " she thought. 
" Hubert let fall a word — an inadvertent one, I think — the other 
night, that they feared I should be melancholy in this gloomy old 
house in the winter. It is gloomy now, but I could have put 
up with that very well." 

" If I get on as famously for the next month or two as I have for 



26o The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

the last three weeks," said the Squire, " I shall be able to drive to 
the station and meet you when you come home. And then when the 
sun comes out warm next spring, I can take your arm, and we can 
walk again in the peach alley as we used to do. Why not ? " 

Was there something wistful in his voice, as he spoke thus, that 
caused Ella to glance up quickly into his face? "Are you sure, 
uncle, that you are really as much stronger and better as you say you 
are ? " she asked quickly, and with ill-concealed anxiety. 

One of his old suspicious flashes came into his eyes : but it died 
away next moment. "Am I sure, dearie? Why — why, what makes 
you ask that ? You can see for yourself that I'm better. Yes,. 
Jago's making another man of me — another man." 

" Tell me the truth, uncle," she exclaimed passionately, " why is 
it that you are driving me away ? I am sure there is some special 
reason for it." 

For a moment or two the Squire did not answer : his face was 
working with some inward excitement, his fingers, stroking the hand 
he held, trembled visibly. 

"The house is getting uncanny, child," he said at last, "and I 
won't suffer my pretty one to be in it for the dark months. Before 
another winter comes round, perhaps the mystery will be solved ; I 
hope it will be. Any way, we shall by that time have become more 
reconciled to it." 

"But, uncle " 

" No objection^ my dear one. You have never made any to my 
will yet, and you must not begin now. Understand, child : I am 
sending you away for the best ; the best for you and for me ; and you 
must be guided by me implicitly, as you ever have been." 
Ella sighed — and would not let him see her tears. 
The yellow sunlight faded and vanished from the gloomy room, 
the old portraits on the walls shrank farther back into the twilight of 
their frames and were lost to view, the log on the hearth crackled and 
glowed more redly bright as darkness crept on apace, and still those 
two sat hand in hand, speaking a i^"^ words now and then, but 
mostly silent. At length the moment of departure came, the carriage 
was at the door, and Mrs. Carlyon entered, ready for travelling. 

The Squire grasped the back of his chair with one hand ; he was 
trembling in every limb. Mrs. Carlyon bade him good-bye quietly 
and without fuss. He kissed her, and held her hand. "Gertrude," 
be said," into your hands I commit my one earthly treasure. I 
charge you with the care of it. Never forget ! " 

Ella clung to him, and laid her head upon his breast. His 
rugged features worked convulsively. He Hfted her face tenderly 
between his hands, and kissed her several times. " Let me stay 
with you, uncle. Why drive me away ? " she said imploringly. 

For a moment there came into his eyes a gleam of agony terrible 
to see : it was a look which Ella never forgot. " No — no — it must 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 261 

not be: I am doing for the best," he repeated, in a hoarse whisper; 
" I tell it you. Farewell, my sweetest and best — farewell. Go now 
— go now," he whispered, as he sank into his chair and pointed to 
the door. 

Hubert Stone, looking every inch a gentleman, attended them to 
the station, sitting on the box with Barnet. Higson went inside with 
the ladies. At the station, Ella took Hubert aside for a private word. 

"You will be sure not to forget your instructions, Hubert ?" 

" I shall not forget one of them, Miss Ella," was his answer. 
*' You may rely upon that." 

"You must watch my uncle narrowly. Should you see the ap- 
proach of any change in him, telegraph to me. Question your 
friend. Dr. Jago, continually of his state. Say nothing to my uncle. 
I will take the responsibility if you send for me. You will always 
know where we are, for I shall keep you well-informed." 

The young man bowed. He was afraid to let his eyes meet hers : 
she might perhaps have fathomed the burning secret that lay half 
hidden there — his passionate love. 

" I trust you, Hubert ; remember that : I have only you to trust to 
now at Heron Dyke. And now, good-bye." 

Hubert clasped the hand she extended to him. And the next 
moment he assisted her into the carriage. 

" Ah, if I might dare to think it would ever be ! " he groaned, 
watching the train as it puffed out of the station. "And, I do think 
it may, I fear, more than is wholesome for me ; for the hope is little 
short of madness." 

At that time the county of Norfolk had been startled from its 
propriety by the ill-judged action of a young lady belonging to the 
family of one of its magnates. She had married one of her father's 
men-servants. Hubert Stone lit his cigar, and quitted the station 
to return home, thinking of this. Strange to say, he saw in it some 
encouragement for himself. 

" If Miss G. can stoop to marry a low fellow like that, surely 
there's nothing so very outrageous in my aspiring to Ella Winter ! 
I am well educated ; I can behave as a gentleman ; I am good- 
looking. There's nothing against me but birth — and fortune. S/ie 
will have enough of the latter if she comes into Heron Dyke — and if 
Jago's clever, I expect she will. Any way her fortune will be a fair one, 
for the Squire must have saved hoards of money. She can well afford 
to dispense with money in whomsoever she may marry : and if she can 
only be brought to overlook the disadvantage of my birth " 

" Good evening, Mr. Stone. And how's the Squire?" 

Hubert's dreams were thus cut short. He answered the question 
mechanically, and stopped to talk to the chance acquaintance who 
had accosted him. 

Meanwhile Ella and Mrs. Carlyon were speeding London-ward as 
fast as the Great Eastern Railway could carry them. At Cambridge 



262 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 

there was a stoppage for two or three minutes. Suddenly Mrs. 
Carlyon uttered an exclamation of surprise. 

" Ella, look ! Look there ! that is surely Mr. Conroy. He is 
looking for a seat." 

Ella bent forward. The next moment Mr. Conroy recognised 
them. He advanced to the carriage window, and raised his hat. 

"Who, in the name of wonder, expected to see you here?" 
exclaimed Mrs. Carlyon, as she held out her hand. " I thought 
you were in Ashantee." 

** It is one of my privileges to turn up in unexpected places," he 
answered. Then he shook hands with Ella and enquired after Mr. 
Denison. 

" Were you looking for a place? — are you going to town?" asked 
Mrs. Carlyon. " If you don't mind travelling with unprotected 
females, there's plenty of room here." 

And, thanking her, into the carriage stepped Edward Conroy, with 
the frank look and smile that Ella remembered so well. 

"Well, if he is not a cool one!" thought the discerning Higson to 
to herself. " I'd not mind answering for it that in some way he got 
to know Miss Ella would be here, and came down from town on 
purpose to meet her. I can read it in his eyes. There's no 
answering for what these venturesome young gents will do ! " 

" And will you kindly explain to us, Mr. Conroy, what business 
you have to be in England when you ought to be sketching black 
people out in Africa ? " 

" Within twenty-four hours of the time I was to have sailed, I 
received a telegram informing me that my father was dangerously 
ill. Under the circumstances, I could not sail ; I had to go to him 
instead. I stayed some time with him, left him better, and then 
found that Dempster had been sent in my place." 

" And a very fortunate thing too." 

Conroy laughed. " You lack enterprise, Mrs. Carlyon. I am 
afraid that you would never do for a special correspondent. Do you 
expect to make a long stay in London this time ? " he asked, turning 
to Ella. 

" We intend starting for the Continent the day after to-morrow," 
answered Mrs. Carlyon. " You had better come and dine with us to- 
morrow evening : there will be no one but ourselves and Mr. Bootle." 

" I shall be very happy to do so," replied Conroy. " What place 
are you going to make your head-quarters while you are away ? " 

" I had some thoughts of San Remo, but we shall probably be 
birds of passage and not stay long in any one place." 

Conroy saw that Ella was silent, and guessed the parting with her 
uncle had been a sad one. What he did not know was, how sweet 
his presence and company were to her. She had been thinking of 
him that very day — thinking of him sadly as of one whom she might 
never see again ; and now he was here, sitting opposite to her. What 



I 



The Mysteries of Hero7i Dyke. 263 

rare chance had brought him ? — She did not talk much, she was 
satisfied to hear his voice and see his face ; at present she craved 
nothing more. The journey she so much dreaded had all at 
once been invested with a charm, with an unexpected sweetness, 
which she never tried to analyse : enough for her that it was there. 

Conroy saw the ladies into their carriage at the London terminus, 
and bade them good-bye till the following evening. — Then he lighted 
a cigar and set out to walk to his rooms in the Adelphi. He was in 
a musing mood, debating some question with himself as he walked 
along. 

" Shall I tell Mrs. Carlyon a certain secret, or shall I not ?" he 
thought. "Would she keep it to herself? No, no; better be on 
the safe side," he presently decided : " and the time is hardly ripe 
to tell it to anyone. What would Squire Denison say if it were 
whispered to him ? " 

On this very evening, while these ladies were on their way to 
London, a strange thing happened at Heron Dyke. 

It was about eight o'clock. Fitch the saddler had come up from 
Nullington about some little matter of business, and Aaron Frost sent 
one of the housemaids to fetch him a certain whip that was hanging 
in the hall. As Martha left the room with her candle she met her 
fellow-servant, Ann, and the latter turned to accompany her. The 
girls never cared to go about the big house singly after dark. They 
went along chattering merrily, and thinking of anything rather 
than unpleasant subjects. Martha was repeating a ludicrous story 
just told in the kitchen by the saddler, and could hardly tell it; 
for laughing. 

As in many old mansions, round three sides of the entrance hall 
there ran an oaken gallery, some twenty-feet above the ground, from 
which various doors gave access to different parts of the house. This 
gallery was reached from the hall by a broad and shallow flight, 
of stairs. 

" How cold this place always strikes one," exclaimed Ann as they 
entered the hall. 

*' It would want many a dozen of candles to light it up properly,'* 
remarked Martha. 

Having found the whip, they turned to retrace their steps, when 
Martha, happening to glance up at the gallery, gave utterance to a low 
cryj and grasped her companion by the arm. Ann's eyes involuntarily 
followed the same direction, and a similar cry of intense terror burst 
from her lips. 

They saw the face of the missing girl — the faceofKatherine Keen, 
gazing down upon them from the gallery. The face was very pale ; 
white as that of the dead. The figure was leaning over the balustrade 
of the gallery and its eyes gazed down into theirs with a sad, fixed, 
weary look. It seemed to be clothed in something dark, pulled 
partly over its head and grasped at the throat by the white, slender 



264 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

fingers. For fully half a minute, the two girls stood and stared up 
at the figure in sheer incapability, and the figure looked sadly down 
upon them. At length it moved — it turned — it took a step forward, 
and the servants, both of them, distinctly heard the sound of a faint 
far-away sigh. Could it be possible that the figure meant to come 
down stairs ? The spell that had held the girls was broken ; with 
low smothered cries of terror they turned and fled, clinging to each 
other. 

How the one dropped the whip and the other the candle, and how 
they at length gained the kitchen, and burst into it with their terror- 
stricken faces and their unhappy tale, they never knew. Fitch the 
saddler gazed in open-eyed amazement, as well he might ; the deaf 
and stolid cook looked in from the cooking-kitchen — in which conge- 
nial place she preferred to sit, surrounded by her saucepans. 

The girls sobbed forth all the dismal story. Their mistress, Mrs. 
Stone, flung her apron over her head as she listened, and sank 
back in her chair in dismay equal to theirs. But old Aaron was 
so indignant, so scandalised, at what he called their imaginative folly, 
that he lost his breath in a rage, and gave each of them a month's 
warning on the spot. 

(To be continued.) 



-T^i^^^ar^^e^fea^^it'r- 



CUCKOO SONG. 

Cuckoo ! cuckoo ! in dawning daylight calling, 
When white mists cling to river-beds and reeds ; 

Cuckoo ! cuckoo ! when evening shades are falling, 
Again your voice along the twilight meads. 

It rains ! sharp hailstone balls in laurel arches 
Storm, rattle, patter, and the clouds hang near ; 

While hidden from sight, 'mid slender aisles of larches. 
You hopeful call monotonously clear. 

It shines ! smile bravely, earth, in all your splendour ; 

Green lawns and lilies greet the wooing sun : 
Cuckoo ! cuckoo I in tones half-gay, half-tender, 

Sing to the world that summer is begun. 

s ings my love, too, rain or shiny weather ; 
She, like the cuckoo, soft voiced, changes not. 
So sing, sweetheart, while we two walk together, 
With chequered storm and sunshine for our lot ! 

G. B. Stuart. 



26s 



VERENA FONTAINE'S REBELLION. 

IT was a dreadful thing to have happened. Edward Pym found 
dead ; and no one could tell for a certainty who had been the 
author of the calamity. 

He had died of a blow dealt to him, the doctors said : it had 
struck him behind the left ear. Could it be possible that he had 
fallen of himself, and struck his head against something in falling, 
was a question put to the doctors — and it was Captain Tanerton 
who put it. It perhaps might be possible, the medical men answered, 
but not at all probable. Mr. Pym could not have inflicted the blow 
upon himself, and there was no piece of furniture in the room, so 
far as they saw, that could have caused the injury, even though he 
had fallen upon it. 

The good luck of the Rose of Delhi seemed not to be in the 
ascendant. Her commander could not sail with her now. Neither 
could her newly appointed third mate, Alfred Saxby. So far as 
might be ascertained at present. Captain Tanerton was the last man 
who had seen Pym alive ; Alfred Saxby had found him dead ; 
therefore their evidence would be required at the official investi- 
gation. 

Ships, however, cannot be lightly detained in port when their 
time for sailing comes : and on the day following the events already 
told of, the Rose of Delhi finally left the docks, all taut and sound, 
the only one of her old officers, sailing in her, being Mark Ferrar. 
The brokers were put out frightfully at the detention of Tanerton. 
A third mate was soon found to replace Saxby : a master not so 
easily. They put in an elderly man, just come home in command 
of one of their ships. Put him in for the nonce, hoping Captain 
Tanerton would be at liberty to join her at Dartmouth, or some 
other place down channel. 

On this same day, Tuesday, the investigation into the events of 
that fatal Monday, as regarded Edward Pym, was begun. Not the 
coroner's inquest : that was called for the morrow : but an informal 
inquiry instituted by the brokers and Sir Dace Fontaine. In a back 
room of the office in Eastcheap, the people met ; and — I am glad to 
say — I was one of them, or I could not have told you what passed. 
Sir Dace sat in the corner, his elbow resting on the desk and his 
hand partly covering his face. He did not pretend to feel the death 
as an affectionate uncle would have felt it ; still Pym was his nephew, 
and there could be no mistake that the affair was troubling him. 

Mrs. Richenough, clean as a new pin, in her Sunday gown and 
close bonnet, a puzzled look upon her wrinkled face, told what 



266 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

she knew — and was longer over it than she need have been, Mr. 
Pym, who lodged in her parlour floor, had left her for good, as she 
supposed, on the Monday morning, his ship, the Rose of DelJii^ 
being about to go out of dock. Mr. Saxby, who had lodged in the 
rooms above Mr. Pym, got appointed to the same ship, and he also 
left. In the afternoon she heard that the ship had got off all right : 
a workman at the docks told her so. Later, who should come to 
the door but Mr. Pym — which naturally gave her great surprise. He 
told her the ship had sprung a leak and had put back ; but they 
should be off again with the next day's tide, and he should have to 
be abroad precious early in the morning to get the cargo stowed 
away again 

" What time was this ? " interrupted Mr. Freeman. 

" About half-past four, I fancy, sir. Mr. Pym spoke rather thick 
— I saw he had been taking a glass. He bade me make him a big 
potful of strong tea — which I did at once, having the kettle on the 
fire. He drank it, and went out." 

" Go on, Mrs. Richenough." 

"An hour afterwards, or so, his captain called, wanting to know 
where he was. Of course, sirs, I could not say ; except that he had 
had a big jorum of tea, and was gone out." 

Captain Tanerton spoke up to confirm this. '* I wanted Pym," he 
said. " This must have been between half-past five and six o'clock." 

"About nine o'clock ; or a bit earlier, it might be — I know it was 
dark and I had finished my supper — Mr. Pym came back," resumed 
the landlady. " He seemed in an ill-humour, and he had been 
having more to drink. ' Light my lamp. Mother Richenough,' says 
he roughly, ' and shut the shutters : Pve got a letter to write.' I 
hghted the lamp, and he got out some paper of his that was left in 
the table-drawer, and the ink, and sat down. After closing the 
shutters I went to the front door, and there I saw Captain Tanerton. 
He asked me " 

"What did he ask you?" cried Mr. Freeman's lawyer, for she had 
come to a dead standstill. 

"Well, the Captain asked me whether any young lady had been 
there. He had asked the same question afore, sir : Mr. Pym's 
cousin, or sister, I b'lieve he meant. I told him No, and he went 
into the parlour to Mr. Pym." 

"What then?" 

" Well, gentlemen, I went back to my kitchen, and shut myself in 
by my bit o' fire ; and, being all lonely like, I a'most dozed off. Not 
quite; they made so much noise in the parlour, quarrelling." 

"Quarrelling?" cried the lawyer. 

"Yes, sir; and were roaring out at one another like wolves. 
Mr. " 

" Stay a moment, ma'am. How long was it after you admitted 
Captain Tanerton that you heard this quarrelling ? " 



Vereiia Fontaine^ s Rebellion. 267 

" Not above three or four minutes, sir. I'm sure of that. * Mr. 
Pym's catching it from his captain, and he is just in the right mood 
to take it unkindly,' I thought to myself. However, it was no 
business of mine. The sounds soon ceased, and I was just dozing 
off again, when Mr. Saxby came home. He went into the parlour 
to see Mr. Pym, and found him lying dead on the floor." 

A dead pause. 

" You are sure, ma'am, it was Captain Tanerton who was quar- 
relling with him ? " cried the lawyer, who asked more questions than 
all the rest put together. 

"Of course I am sure," returned Mrs. Richenough. "Why, sir, 
how could it be anybody else ? Hadn't I just let in Captain 
Tanerton to him ? Nobody was there but their two selves." 

Naturally the room turned to Jack. He answered the mute appeal 
very quietly. 

" It was not myself that quarrelled with Pym. No angry word of 
any kind passed between us. Pym had been drinking ; Mrs. Rich- 
enough is right in that. He was not in a state to be reproved or 
reasoned with, and I came away at once. I did not stay to sit down." 

" You hear this, Mrs. Richenough ? " 

"Yes, sir, I do ; and I am sure the gentleman don't speak or look 
like one who could do such a deed. But, then, I heard the quar- 
relling." 

An argument indisputable to her own mind. Sir Dace looked up 
and put a question for the first time. He had listened in silence. 
His dark face had a wearied look on it, and he spoke hardly above 
a whisper. 

" Did you know the voice to be that of Captain Tanerton, Mistress 
Landlady ? Did you recognise it for his ? " 

" I knew the voice couldn't be anybody else's, sir. Nobody but 
the Captain was with Mr. Pym." 

" I asked you whether you recognised it ? " returned Sir Dace, 
knitting his brow. " Did you know by its tone that it was Captain 
Tanerton's ? " 

" Well, no, sir, I did not, if you put it in that way. Captain 
Tanerton was nearly a stranger to me, and the two shut doors and 
the passage was between me and him. I had only heard him speak 
once or twice before, and then in a pleasant, ordinary voice. In 
this quarrel his voice was raised to a high, rough pitch ; and in 
course I could not know it for his." 

" In point of fact, then, it comes to this : You did not recognise 
the voice for Captain Tanerton's." 

" No, sir ; not, I say, if you put it in that light." 

" Let me put it in this light," was Sir Dace Fontaine's testy 
rejoinder : " Had three or four people been with Mr. Pym in his 
parlour, you could not have told whose voice it was quarrelling with 
him ? You would not have known ? " 



268 Verena Fontaine^ s Rebellion, 

*' That Is so, sir. But, you see, I knew it was his captain that 
was with him." 

Sir Dace folded his arms and leaned back in his chair, his cross- 
questioning over. Mrs. Richenough was done with for the present, 
and Captain Tanerton entered upon his version of the night's events. 

" I wished particularly to see Mr. Pym, and went to Ship Street 
in search of him, as I have already said. He was not there. Later, 
I went down again " 

" I beg your pardon. Captain Tanerton," interrupted the lawyer; 
" what time do you make it — that second visit ? " 

" It must have been nearly nine o'clock. Mr. Pym was at home, 
and I went into his parlour. He sat at the table writing, or pre- 
paring to write. I asked him the question I had come to ask, and 
he answered me. Scarcely anything more passed between us. He 
was three-parts tipsy. I had intended to tell him that he was no 
longer chief mate of my ship — had been superseded ; but, seeing his 
condition, I did not. I can say positively that I was not more than 
two minutes in the room." 

** And you and he did not quarrel ? " 

" We did not. Neither were our voices raised. It is very probable, 
in his then condition, that he would have attempted to quarrel had 
he known he was discharged ; but he did not know it. We were 
perfectly civil to each other; and when I wished him good-night, he 
came into the passage and shut the front door after me." 

" You left no one with him ? " 

** No one ; so far as I saw. I can answer for it that no one was 
in the parlour with us : whether anyone was in the back room I 
cannot say. I do not think so." 

*' After that, Captain Tanerton?" 

** After that I went straight to my hotel in the Minories, and 
ordered tea. While taking it, Mr. Ferrar came in and told me 
Edward Pym was dead. I could not at first believe it. I went back 
to Ship Street and found it too true. In as short a time as I could 
manage it, I went to carry the news to Sir Dace Fontaine, taking 
young Saxby with me." 

Jack had spoken throughout in the ready, unembarrassed manner 
of one who tells a true tale. But never in all my life had I seen him 
so quiet and subdued. He was like one who has some great care 
upon him. The other hearers, not knowing Jack as I knew him, 
would not notice this ; though I cannot answer for it that one of 
them did not — James Freeman. He never took his eyes off Jack all 
the while ; peered at him as if he were a curiosity. It was not an 
open stare ; more of a surreptitious one, taken stealthily from under 
his eyebrows. 

Some testimony as to Pym's movements that afternoon was obtained, 
from Mrs. Ball, the lawyer having already been to Woburn Place 
to get it. She said that young Pym came to her house between five 



Vtrena Fontaine^ s Rebellion. 269 

and six o'clock — nearer six than five, she thought, and seemed very 
much put out and disappointed to find Miss Verena Fontaine had 
left for her own home. He spoke of the ship's having sprung a leak 
and put back again, but he believed she would get out again on the 
morrow. Mrs. Ball did not notice that he had been drinking ; but 
one of her servants met him in the street after he left the house, 
heard him swearing to himself, and saw him turn into a public-house. 
If he remained in it until the time he next appeared in Ship 
Street, his state then was not to be wondered at. 

This was about all that had been gathered at present. A great 
deal of talking took place, but no opinion was expressed by 
anybody. Time enough for that when the jury met on the morrow. 
As we were turning out of the back room, the meeting over, Mr. 
Freeman put his hand upon Jack, to detain him. Jack, in his turn, 
detained me. 

" Captain Tanerton," he said, In a grave whisper, " do you remem- 
ber making a remark to me not long ago, in this, my private room 
— that if we persisted in sending Pym out with you in the ship, 
there would be murder committed ? " 

" I believe I do," said Jack, quietly. "They were foolish words, 
and meant nothing." 

" I do not like to remember them," pursued Mr. Freeman. '' As 
things have turned out, it would have been better that you had not 
used them." 

" Perhaps so," answered Jack. " They have done no harm, that 
I know of." 

" They have been singularly verified. The man has been mur- 
dered." 

" Not on board the Rose of Delhi ^ 

" No. Off it." 

" I should rather call it death by misadventure," said Jack, look- 
ing calmly at the broker. " At the worst, done in a scufifle ; pos- 
sibly in a fall." 

" Most people, as I think you will find, will call it murder, Cap- 
tain Tanerton." 

" I fear they will." 

Mr. Freeman stood before Jack, waiting — at least it struck me so 
— to hear him add, ' But I did not commit it ' — or words to that 
effect. I waited too. Jack never spoke them : he remained silent 
and still. Since the past day his manner had changed. All the 
light-hearted ease had gone out of it ; the sunny temperament seemed 
exchanged for thought and gloom. 

Fine tidings to travel down to Timberdale ! 

On Wednesday, the day following this, the Squire stood at the 
gate of Crabb Cot after breakfast, looking this way and that. 
Dark clouds were chasing each other over the face of the sky, now 



2/0 Verena Fontaine^ s Rebellion, 

obscuring the sun, now leaving it to shine out with intense fierce- 
ness. 

*' It won't do to-day," cried the Squire. *' It's too windy, Joe. 
The fish would not bite." 

" They'd bite fast enough," said Tod, who had set his mind upon 
a day's fishing, and wanted the Squire to go with him. 

" Feel that gust, Joe ! Why, if — halloa, here comes Letsom ! " 

Colonel Letsom was approaching at the pace of a steam-engine, 
his mild face longer than usual. Tod laughed. 

The Colonel, never remembering to say How d'ye do, or to shake 
hands, dragged two letters out of his pocket, all in a flurry. 

" Such fearful news, Todhetley ! " he exclaimed. '' Pym — you 
remember that poor Pym ? " 

" What should hinder me ? " cried the Squire. ** A fine dance 
we had, looking for him and Verena Fontaine the other night in 
London ! What of Pym ? " 

" He is dead ! " gasped the Colonel. " Murdered." 

The Pater took off his spectacles, thinking they must affect his 
hearing, and stared. 

" And it is thought," added the Colonel, " that — that Captain 
Tanerton did it." 

" Good mercy, Letsom ! You can't mean it." 

Colonel Letsom's answer was to read out portions of the two 
letters. One of thera was written to his daughter Mary Ann by 
Coralie Fontaine; three sheets full. She gave much the same 
history of the calamity that has been given above. It could not 
have been done by any hand but Captain Tanerton's, she said; 
though of course not intentionally ; nobody thought that : her 
father, Sir Dace, scorned any worse idea. Altogether, it was a 
dreadful thing ; it had struck Verena into a kind of wild despair, 
and bewildered them all. And in a postscript she added what she 
had apparently forgotten to say before — that Captain Tanerton 
denied it. 

Tod looked up, a flush on his face. " One thing may be relied 
upon, Colonel — that if Tanerton did do it, he will avow it. He 
would never deny it." 

" This other letter is from Sir Dace," said the Colonel, after put- 
ting Coralie's aside. And he turned round that we might look over 
his shoulder while he read it. 

It gave a much shorter account than Coralie's ; a lighter account, 
as if he took a less grave view of the affair ; and it concluded with 
these words. "Suspicion lies upon Tanerton. I think unjustly. 
Allowing that he did do it, it could only have been done by a smartly- 
provoked blow, devoid of ill-intention. No one knows better than 
myself how quarrelsome and overbearing that unfortunate young man 
was. But I, for one, believe what Tanerton says — that he was not even 
present when it happened. I am inclined to think that Pym, in his 



Vere7ia Fentaine's Rebellion. 271 

unsteady state, must in some way have fallen when alone, and struck 
his head fatally." 

" Sir Dace is right ; I'll lay my fortune upon it," cried Tod 
warmly. 

" Don't talk quite so fast about your fortune, Joe ; wait till 
you've got one," rebuked the Pater. " I must say it is grievous 
news, Letsom. It has upset me." 

" I am off now to show the letters to Paul," said the Colonel. 
'' It will be but neighbourly, as he is a connection of the Fon- 
taines." 

Shaking hands, he turned away on the road to Islip. The Squire, 
leaning on the gate, appeared to be looking after him : in reality he 
was deep in a brown study. 

"Joe," said he, in a tone that had a sound of awe in it, "this is 
curious, taken in conjunction with what Alice Tanerton told us 
yesterday morning." 

*' Well, it does seem rather queer," conceded Tod. " Something 
like the dream turning up trumps." 

" Trumps ? " retorted the Pater. 

" Truth, then. Poor Alice ! " 

A singular thing had happened. Especially singular, taken in 
conjunction (as the Squire put it) with this unfortunate news. And 
when the reader hears the whole, though it won't be just yet, he will 
be ready to call out, It is not true. But it is true. And this one 
only fact, with its truth and its singularity, induced me to recount 
the history. 

IT. 

On Tuesday morning, the day after the calamity in Ship Street 
— you perceive that we go back a day — the Squire and Tod turned 
out for a walk. They had no wish to go anywhere in particular, and 
their steps might just as well have been turned Crabb way as Timber- 
dale way — or, for that matter, any other way. The morning was 
warm and bright : they strolled towards the Ravine, went through it, 
and so on to Timberdale. 

"We may as well call and see how Herbert Tanerton is, as we are 
here," remarked the Squire. For Herbert had a touch of hay-fever. 
He was always getting something or other. 

The Rector was better. They found him pottering about his 
garden ; that prolific back garden from which we once saw — if you 
don't forget it — poor, honest, simple-minded Jack bringing straw- 
berries on a cabbage-leaf for crafty Aunt Dean. The suspected hay- 
fever turned out to be a bit of a cold in the head : but the Rector 
could not have looked more miserable had it been in the heart, 
^r " What's the matter with you now ? " cried the Squire, who never 
gave in to Herbert's fancies. 



272 Verena Fontaines Rebellion. 

" Matter enough," he growled in answer : " to have a crew of 
ridiculous women around you, no better than babies ! Here's Alice 
in a world of a way about Jack, proclaiming that some harm has 
happened to him." 

" What harm ? Does she know of any ? " 

" No, she does not know of any," croaked Herbert, flicking a 
growing gooseberry off a bush with the rake. *'She says a dream 
disclosed it to her." 

The Pater stared. Tod threw up his head with a laugh. 

" You might have thought she'd got her death-warrant read out to 
her, so white and trembling did she come down," continued Herbert 
in an injured tone. " She had dreamt a dreaai, foreshadowing evil 
to Jack, she began to tell us — and not a morsel of breakfast could she 
touch." 

" But that's not like Alice," continued the Squire. *' She is too 
sensible : too practical for such folly." 

" It's not like any rational woman. And Grace would have con- 
doled with her ! Women infect each other." 

" What was the dream ? " 

" Some nonsense or other, you may be sure. I would'not let her 
relate it, to me, or to Grace. Alice burst into tears and called 
me hard-hearted. I came out here to get away from her." 

" For goodness' sake don't let her upset herself over a rubbishing 
dream, Tanerton," cried the Squire, all sympathy. "She's not strong, 
you know, just now. I dreamt one night the public hangman was 
appointed to take my head off; but it is on my shoulders yet. You 
tell her that." 

" Yesterday was the day Jack was to sail," interrupted Tod. 

"Of course it was," acquiesced the Rector : " he must be half-way 
down channel by this time. If — Here comes Alice ! " he broke off. 
" I shall go. I don't want to hear more of such stuff." 

He went on down the garden in a huff, disappearing behind the 
kidney-beans. Alice, wearing a light print gown and black silk apron, 
her smooth brown hair glossy as ever, and her open face as pretty, 
shook hands with them both. 

** And what's this we hear about your tormenting yourself over a 
dream ? " blundered the Squire. Though whether it was a blunder 
to say it, I know not; or whether, but for that, she would have spoken : 
once the ice is broken, you may plunge in easily. " My dear, I'd 
not have thought it oi you.'" 

Alice's face took a deeper gravity, her eyes a far-off look. " It is 
quite true, Mr. Todhetley," she sighed. " I have been very much 
troubled by a dream." 

" Tell it us, Alice," said Tod, his whole face in a laugh. " What 
was it about ? " 

" That you may ridicule it ? " she sighed. 

" Yes," he answered. " Ridicule it out of you." 



Verena Fontaine^ s Rebellion, 273 

" You cannot do that," was her quiet answer : and Tod told me 
in later days that it rather took him aback to see her solemn sadness. 
*' I should like to relate it to you, Mr. Todhetley. Herbert would 
not hear it, or let Grace." 

" Herbert's a parson you know, my dear, and parsons think they 
ought to be above such things," was the Squire's soothing answer. 
*' If it will ease your mind to tell it me — Here, let us sit down under 
the pear tree." 

So they sat down on the bench under the blossoms of the pear 
tree, the Pater admonishing Tod to behave himself; and poor Alice 
told her dream. 

" I thought it was the present time," she began. " This very 
present day, say, or yesterday j and that Jack was going to sea in 
command " 

**But, my dear, he always goes in command." 

" Of course. But in the dream the point was especially presented 
to my mind — that he was going out in command. He came to me 
the morning of the day he was to sail, looking very patient, pale, and 
sorrowful. It seemed that he and I had had some dispute, causing 
estrangement, the previous night : it was over then, and I, for one, 
repented of the coldness." 

" Well, Alice ? " broke in Tod : for she had stopped, and was 
gazing out straight before her. 

" I wish I could show to you how real all this was," she resumed. 
** It was more as though I were wide awake, and enacting it. I never 
had so vivid a dream before; never in all my life." 

" But why don't you go on ? " 

" Somebody had been murdered : some man. I don't know who 
it was — or where, or how. Jack was suspected. Jack! But it 
seemed that it could not be brought home to him. We were in a 
strange town ; at least, it was strange to me, though it seemed that 
I had stayed in it once before, many years ago. Jack was standing 
before me all this while, you understand, in his sadness and sorrow. 
It was not he who had told me what had happened. I seemed to 
have known it already. Everybody knew it, everybody spoke of it, 
and we were in cruel distress. Suddenly I remembered that when I 
was in the town the previous time, the man who was murdered had 
had a bitter quarrel with another man, a gentleman : and a sort of 
revelation came over me that this gentleman had been the murderer. 
I went privately to some one who had authority in the ship, and 
said so ; I think her owner. He laughed at me — did I know how 
high this gentleman was, he asked ; the first magnate in the town. 
That he had done it I felt sure; surer than if I had seen it done; but 
no one would listen to me — and in the trouble I awoke." 
*' That ^s not much to be troubled at," cried the Squire. 
" The trouble was terrible ; you could not feel such in real life. 
But I have not told all. Presently I got to sleep again, and found 

VOL. XXIX T 



274 Verena Fontaine^ s Rebellion, 

myself in the same dream. I was going through the streets of the 

town in an open carriage, the ship's owner with me " 

** Was the ship the Rose of Delhi? " 

*' I don't know. The owner, sitting with me in the carriage, was 
not either of the owners of the Rose of Del/ii, whom I know well ; 
this was a stranger. We were going over a bridge. Walking towards 
us on the pavement, I saw two gentlemen arm-in-arm : one an officer 
in a dusky old red uniform and cocked-hat ; the other an ^z^//-looking 
man who wore a long brown coat. He walked along with his eyes on 
the ground. I kne,w him by intuition — that it was the man who had had 
the quarrel years before, and who had done the murder now. ' There's 
the gentleman you would have accused,' said my companion before I 
could speak, pointing to this man : ' he stands higher in position than 
anybody else in the town.' They walked on in their security, and we 
drove on in our pain. I ought to say in my pain, for I alone felt it. 
Oh, I cannot tell you what it was — this terrible pain ; not felt so 
much, it seemed, because my husband could not be cleared, as for liis 
sadness and sorrow. Nothing like it, I say, can ever be felt on 
earth." 

" And what else, Alice ? " 

" That is all," she sighed. ''I awoke for good then. But the pain 
and the fear remain with me." 

" Perhaps, child, you are not very well ? — been eating green goose- 
berries, or some such trash. Nothing's more likely to give one bad 
dreams than unripe fruit." 

'* Why should the dream have left this impression of evil upon me 
— this weight of fear ? " cried Alice, never so much as hearing the 
Pater's irreverent suggestion. *' If it meant nothing, if it were not 
come as a warning, it would pass from my mind as other dreams 
pass." 

Not knowing what to say to this, the Squire said nothing. He and 
Tod both saw how useless it would be ; no argument could shake her 
faith in the dream, and the impression it had left. 

The Squire, more easily swayed than a child, yet suspecting nothing 
of the news that was on its way to Timberdale, quitted the rectory 
and went home shaking his head. Alice's solemn manner had told 
upon him. *' I can't make much out of the dream, Joe," he re- 
marked, as they walked back through the Ravine ; " but I don't 
say dreams are always to be ridiculed, since we read of dreams sent 
as warnings in the Bible. Anyhow, I hope Jack will make a good 
voyage. He has got home safe and sound from other voyages : why 
should he not from this one ? " 

Before that day was over, they saw Alice again. She walked over to 
Crabb Cot in the evening with her little girl — a sprightly child with 
Jack's own honest and kindly eyes. Alice put a sealed paper into the 
Squire's hand. 

** I know you will think me silly," she said to him, in a low tone 



Vereiia Fontaine's Rebellion, 275 

" perhaps gone a little out of my senses ; but, as I told you this 
morning, nothing has ever impressed me so greatly and so un- 
pleasantly as this dream. I cannot get it out of my mind for a 
moment ; every hour, as it goes by, only serves to render it clearer. 
I have written it down here, every particular, more minutely than I 
related it to you this morning, and I have sealed it up, you see ; and 
I am come to ask you to keep it. Should my husband ever be 
accused, it may serve to " 

"Now, child, don't you talk nonsense," interrupted the Pater. 
*' Accused of what ? " 

" I don't know. I wish I did. I hope you will pardon me, Mr. 
Todhetley," she went on, in deprecation ; " but indeed there lies upon 
me a dread — an apprehension that startles me. I daresay I express 
myself badly \ but it is there. And, do you know, Jack has lately 
experienced the same sensation ; he told me so on Sunday. He said 
it was like an instinct of coming evil." 

** Then that accounts for it," cried the Squire, considerably re- 
lieved, and wondering how Jack could be so silly, if she was. '' If 
your husband told you that, Alice, of course the first thing you'd do 
would be to go and dream of it." 

** Perhaps so. What he said made no impression on me ; he 
laughed as he said it : I don't suppose it made much on him. 
Please keep the paper." 

The Squire carried the paper upstairs and locked it up in the little 
old walnut bureau in his bedroom. He told Alice where he had put 
it. And she, declining any refreshment, left again with little Polly 
for Timberdale Rectory. 

" Has Herbert come to ? " asked Tod laughingly, as he went to 
open the gate for her. 

** Oh, dear no," answered Alice. " He never will, if you mean as 
to hearing me tell the dream." 

They had a hot argument after she left : Mrs. Todhetley maintaining 
that some dreams were to be regarded as sacred things; while Tod 
ridiculed them with all his might, asserting that there never had been, 
and never could be anything in them to affect sensible people. The 
Squire, now taking one side, now veering to the other, remained in a 
state of vacillation, something like Mahomet's coffin hovering be- 
tween earth and Heaven. 

And, you will now readily understand that when the following 
morning, Wednesday, Colonel Letsom brought the Squire the news 
of Pym's death, calling it murder, and that Jack was suspected, and 
the ship had gone out without him, this dream of Alice Tanerton's 
took a new and not at all an agreeable prominence. Even Tod, 
sceptical Tod, allowed that it was " queer." 

On this same morning, Wednesday, Alice received a letter from her 
husband. He spoke of the mishap to the ship, said that she had put 
back, and had again gone out \ he himself being detained in London 



2^6 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

on business, but he expected to be off in a day or two and join her 
at some place down channel. But not a word did he say of the cause 
of his detention, or of the death of Edward Pym. She heard it from 
others. 

With this confirmation, as it seemed, of her dream, Alice took it 
up more warmly. She went over to the old lawyer at Islip, John 
Paul, recounted the dream to him, and asked what she was to do. 
Naturally, old Paul told her " nothing" : and he must have laughed 
in his sleeve as he said it. 



III. 

The good ship. Rose of Delhi, finally went away with all her sails 
set for the East ; but John Tanerton went not with her. 

The inquest on the unfortunate young man, Pym, was put off from 
time to time, and prolonged and procrastinated. Captain Tanerton 
had to wait its pleasure ; the ship could not. 

The case presented difficulties, and the jury could not see their way 
to come to a verdict. Matters looked rather black against Captain 
Tanerton ; that was not denied ; but not sufficiently black, it would 
seem, for the law to lay hold of him. At any rate, the law did not. 
Perhaps the persistent advocacy of Sir Dace Fontaine went some way 
with the jury. Sir Dace gave it as his strong opinion that his mis- 
guided nephew, being the worse for drink, had fallen of himself, 
probably with his head on the iron fender, and that Captain Tanerton's 
denial was a strictly true one. The end finally arrived at was — that 
there was not sufficient evidence to show how the death was caused. 

At the close of the investigation Jack went down to Timberdale. 
Not the open-hearted, ready-handed Jack of the old days, but a 
subdued, saddened man who seemed to have a care upon him. The 
foolish speech he had thoughtlessly made to Mr. Freeman preceded 
him : and Herbert Tanerton — always looking on the darkest side of 
everything and everybody, considered it a proof that Jack had done 
the deed. 

Timberdale (including Crabb) held opposite opinions; half of it 
taking Captain Tanerton's side, half the contrary one. As to the 
Squire, he was more helpless than an old sheep. He had always 
liked Jack, had believed in him as in one of us : but, you see, when 
one gets into trouble, faith is apt to waver. A blow, argued the Pater 
in private, is so easily given in the heat of passion. 

" A pretty kettle of fish this is," croaked Herbert to Jack, on his 
brother's arrival. 

" Yes, it is," sighed Jack. 

"The ship's gone without you, I hear." 

" She had to go. Ships cannot be delayed to await the conveni- 
ence of one man : you must know that, Herbert." 

" How came you to do it, John ? " 



I 



Verena Fontaine'' s Rebellion. 277 

" To do what ? " asked Jack. " To stay ? It was no fault of mine. 
I was one of the chief witnesses, and the coroner would not release me." 
" You know what I mean. Not that. How came you to do it, I 
ask ? " 

** To do what ? " repeated Jack. 
" Kill Pym." 

Jack's face took a terrible shade of pain as he looked at his brother. 
" I should have thought, Herbert, that you, of all people, might have 
judged me better than that." 

" I don't mean to say you did it deliberately ; that you meant to do 
it," returned the Rector in his coldest manner. " But that was a very 
awkward threat of yours — that if the brokers persisted in sending Pym 
out with you, there'd be murder committed. Very incautious ! " 

" You can't mean what you say ; you cannot surely reflect on what 
you would imply — that I spoke those words with intention ! " flashed 
Jack. 

"You did speak them — and they were verified," contended Her- 
bert. Just the same thing, you see, that Mr. Freeman had said to 
Jack in London. Poor Jack ! 

" How did you hear that I had said anything of the kind ? " 
"Somebody wrote it to Timberdale," answered the parson, crustily. 
There could be no question that the affair had crossed him more 
than anything that had ever happened in this world. " I think it was 
Coralie Fontaine." 

" I am deeply sorry I ever spoke them, Herbert — as things have 
turned out." 

** No doubt you are. The tongue's an evil and dangerous 
member. Let us drop the subject : the less it is recurred to now, 
the better." 

Captain Tanerton saw how it was — that all the world suspected 
him, beginning with his brother. 

And he certainly did not do as much to combat the feeling as he 
might have done. This was noticed. He did not assert his inno- 
cence strenuously and earnestly. He said he was not guilty, it's 
true, but he said it too quietly. A man accused of so terrible a 
crime would move heaven and earth to prove the charge false — if 
false it were. Jack denied his guilt, but denied it in a very tame 
fashion. And this had its effect upon his upholders. 

There could be no mistaking that some inward trouble tormented 
him. His warm, genial manners had given place to thoughtfulness 
and care. Was Jack guilty? — his best friends acknowledged the 
doubt now, in the depths of their heart. Herbert Tanerton was 
worrying himself into a chronic fever : chiefly because disgrace was 
reflected on his immaculate self, Jack being his brother. Squire 
Todhetley, meeting Jack one day in Robert Ashton's cornfield, 
took Jack's hands in his, and whispered that if Jack did strike the 
blow unwittingly, he knew it was all the fault of that unhappy, cross- 



2/8 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

grained Pym. In short, the only person who retained full belief in 
Jack was his wife. Jack had surely done it, said Timberdale under 
the rose, but done it unintentionally. 

Alice related her dream to Jack. Not being given to belief in 
dreams. Jack thought little of it. Nothing, in fact. It was no big, 
evil-faced man who harmed Pym, he answered, shaking his head; 
and he seemed to speak as one who knew. 

Timberdale was no longer a pleasant resting-place for John 
Tanerton, and he quitted it for Liverpool, with Alice and their little 
girl. Aunt Dean received him coolly and distantly. The misfortune 
had put her out frightfully : with Jack's income threatened, there 
would be less for herself to prey upon. She told him to his face 
that if he wanted to correct Pym, he might have waited till they got 
out to sea : blows were not thought much of on board ship. 

The next day Jack paid a visit to the owners, and resigned his 
command. For, he was still attached ostensibly to the Rose of Del hi y 
though another master had temporarily superseded him. 

"Why do you do this?" asked Mr. Charles Freeman. '*We can 
put you into another ship, one going on a shorter voyage, and when 
your own comes home you can take her again." 

*' No," said Jack. " Many thanks, though, for your confidence in 
me. All the world seems to believe me guilty. If I were guilty I 
am not fit to command a ship's crew." 

" But you were not guilty ? " 

More emphatically than Jack had yet spoken upon the affair, he 
spoke now : and his truthful, candid eyes went straight into those oV 
his questioner. 

^^ I was not. Before Heaven, I say it." 

Charles Freeman heaved a sigh of relief. He liked Jack, and the' 
matter had somewhat troubled him. 

" Then, Captain Tanerton — I fully believe you — why not reconsider ' 
your determination, and remain on active service? The Shamrock 
is going to Madras ; sails in a day or two ; and you shall have her. 
She'll be home again before the Rose of Delhi. For your own sake 
I think you should do this — to still rancorous tongues." 

Jack sighed. '' I can't feel free to go," he said. *' This suspicion 
has troubled me more than you can imagine. I must get some 
employment on shore." 

''You should stand up before the world and assert your innocence 
in this same emphatic manner," returned the owner. "Why have 
you not done it ? " 

Jack's voice took a tone of evasion at once. " I have not cared 
to do it." 

Charles Freeman looked at him. A sudden thought flashed into 
his mind. 

" Are you screening some one. Captain Tanerton ? " 

" How can you ask such a question ? " rejoined Jack. But the 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion, 279 

deep and sudden flush that rose with the words, gave fresh food for 
speculation to Mr. Freeman. He dropped his voice. 

"Surely it was not Sir Dace Fontaine who — who killed him? 
The uncle and nephew were not on good terms." 

Jack's face and voice brightened again — he could answer this with 
his whole heart. " No, no," he impressively said, " it was not Sir 
Dace Fontaine. You may at least rely upon that." 

When I at length got back to Crabb, the Fontaines were there. 
After the inquest, they had gone again to Brighton. Poor Verena 
looked like a ghost, I thought, when I saw her on the Sunday in 
their pew at church. 

" It has been a dreadful thing," I said to her, as we walked on 
together after service ; ** but I am sorry to see you look so ill." 

" A dreadful thing ! — ay, it has, Johnny Ludlow," was her answer, 
spoken in a wail. " I expect it will kill some of us." 

Sir Dace looked ill too. His furtive eyes had glanced hither and 
thither during the service, like a man who has a scare upon him \ 
but they seemed ever to come back to Verena. 

Not another word was said by either of us until we were near the 
barn. Then Verena spoke. 

" Where is John Tanerton ? " 

" In Liverpool, I hear." 

" Poor fellow ! " 

Her tone was as piteous as her words, as her looks. All the 
bloom had gone from her pretty face ; its lips were white, dry, and 
trembling. In Coralie there was no change ; her smiles were pleasant 
as ever, her manners as easy. The calamity had evidently passed 
lightly over her; as I expect most things in life did pass. 

Saying good-morning at the turning, Sir Dace and Verena branched 
off to Maythorn Bank. Coralie lingered yet, talking with Mr. Todhetley. 

" My dear, how ill your father is looking ! " exclaimed the Squire. 

" He does look ill," answered Coralie. " He has never been quite 
the same since that night in London. He said one day that he 
could not get the sight of Pym out of his mind — as he saw him lying 
on the floor in Ship Street." 

*' It must have been a sad sight." 

"Papa is also, I think, anxious about Verena," added Coralie. 
" She has taken the matter to heart in quite an unnecessary manner ; 
just, I'm sure, as if she intended to die over it. That must vex 
papa : I see him glancing at her every minute in the day. Oh, 
I assure you I am the only cheerful one of the family now," con- 
cluded Coralie, lightly, as she ran away to catch the others. 

That was the last we saw of them that year. On the morrow we 
left for Dyke Manor. 

In the course of the autumn John Tanerton ran up to Timberdale 



2 So Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

from Liverpool. It had come to his knowledge that the Ash Farm, 
belonging to Robert Ashton, was to let — Grace had chanced to men- 
tion it incidentally when writing to Alice — and poor Jack thought if 
he could only take it his fortune was made. He was an excellent, 
practical farmer, and knew he could make it answer. But it would 
take two or three thousand pounds to stock the Ash Farm, and Jack 
had not as many available shillings. He asked his brother to lend 
him the money. 

" I always knew you were deficient in common sense," was the 
Rector's sarcastic rejoinder to the request. " Three thousand pounds ! 
What next ? " 

" It would be quite safe, Herbert : you know how energetic I am. 
And I will pay you good interest." 

" No doubt you will — when I lend it you. You have a cheek !" 

" But " 

" That will do ; don't waste breath," interrupted Herbert, cutting 
him short. And he positively refused the request — refused to listen 
to another word. 

Strolling past Maythorn Bank that same afternoon, very much 
down in looks and spirits. Jack saw Sir Dace Fontaine. He was 
leaning over his little gate, looking just as miserable as Jack. For 
Sir Dace to look out of sorts was nothing unusual ; for Jack it was. 
Sir Dace asked what was amiss : and Jack — candid, free-spoken, 
open-natured Jack — told of his disappointment in regard to the Ash 
Farm : his brother not feeling inclined to advance him the necessary 
money to take it — -^^^ 3,000. 

" I wonder you do not return to the sea. Captain Tanerton," cried 
Sir Dace. 

*' I do not care to return to it," was Jack's answer. 
"Why?" 

** I shall never go to sea again, Sir Dace," he said in his candour. 
" Never go to sea again ! " 

" No. At any rate, not until I am cleared. While this dark 
cloud of suspicion lies upon me I am not fit to take the command of 
others. Some windy night insubordinate men might throw the 
charge in my teeth." 

*' You are wrong," said Sir Dace, his countenance taking an angry 
turn. "You know, I presume, your own innocence — and you should 
act as if you knew it." 

He turned back up the path without another word,ientered his 
house, and shut the door. Jack walked slowly on. Presently he 
heard footsteps behind him, looked round, and saw Verena Fontaine. 
They had not met since the time of Pym's death, and Jack thought 
he had never seen such a change in anyone. Her bright colour 
was gone, her cheeks were wasted, — a kind of dumb despair sat 
in her once laughing blue eyes. All Jack's pity — and he_had his 
share of it — went out to her. 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 281 

" I heard a little of what you said to papa at the garden-gate, 
Captain Tanerton — not much of it. I was in the arbour. Why is 
it that you will not yet go to sea again ? What is it you wait for ? " 

" I am waiting until I can stand clear in the eyes of men," 
answered Jack, candid as usual, but somewhat agitated, as if the 
topic were a sore one. " No man with a suspicion attaching to him 
should presume to hold authority over other men." 

" I understand you," murmured Verena. " If you stood as free 
from suspicion with all the world as you are in my heart, and — 
and " — she paused from emotion — *'and I think in my father's 
also, you would have no cause to hesitate." 

Jack took a questioning glance at her ; at the sad, eager eyes that 
were lifted beseechingly to his. ** It is kind of you to say so much," 
he answered. ** It struck me at the time of the occurrence that you 
could not, did not, believe me guilty." 

Verena shivered. As if his steady gaze were too much for her, she 
turned her own aside towards the blue sky. 

*' Good-bye," she said faintly, putting out her hand. " I only 
wanted to say this — to let you know that I believe in your innocence." 

" Thank you," said Jack, meeting her hand. " It is gratifying to 
hear that yoiL do me justice." 

He walked quietly away. She stood still to watch him. And of 
all the distressed, sad, aching countenances ever seen in this world, 
few could have matched that of Miss Verena Fontaine. 

Johnny Ludlow. 

{^Concluded next month.) 



282 



ABOUT NORWAY. 

By Charles W. Wood, Author of "Through Holland." 




N° 



Between Tune and Skogstad. 



RWAY 
may cer- 
tainly be described 
as a very irregular 
country. Not, let 
us hasten to add, 
in the matter of 
its morals, which 
I believe are un- 
exceptionable, but 
in its physical 
aspect. Long 
stretches of flat, 
level roads are 
almost unknown ; 
and the great up- 
heavals of Nature, 
which we call 
mountains, are 
well nigh as diver- 
sified in outline 
undulate ; now in 
to give the 



at their base as at their summit. The roads 

gentle lines which seem to serve no other purpose than 

horse an excuse for crawling, and of which he makes the most — 

now suddenly rising in steep ascents which require both fortitude and 

perseverance to scale. 

The reader will remember that we parted from Mr. and Miss B. 
at the foot of the Baegna Bridge : that after handshakes increased 
and multiplied on the part of Mr. B., who alighted from his 
carriole, and danced a species of war dance in the road, as he 
capered from one carriole to another, showering down upon us 
the while all kinds of good wishes for our future happiness and 
prosperity in Norway : and handwaves and kindly glances from his 
sister : the angle of the road at length took them from our sight, 
and we saw them no more. 

We now began the ascent of a winding mountain path, steep and 
long — the ascent of the Jukamsklev. The road had been cleared 
out of the mountain in zigzags, and the scenery as we went upwards 
was of untold beauty. We obtained grand views of the rushing 
torrent, and as we mounted high and higher, our gaze seemed 
carried into precipitous depths. Not far from here is the church 



About Norway. 283 

X)f Lorn, dating back to the thirteenth century, built of resinous pine 
wood in the Byzantine style, and tarred over from time to time 
until the wood has become hard as iron and almost imperishable. 
But we could not visit it, what had still to be done would admit 
of no delay on the road. As it was, the shadows were lengthening, 
and that peculiar look was creeping over the sky, which announces 
as surely as a sun-dial that the day is on the wane. 

It was now my turn to receive the burden of leadership, and 
though perfectly helpless and innocent, I very soon felt myself quite 
a miserable culprit. Do what I would, my horse would not go 
beyond a snail's pace : he did not even walk, but crawled. In 
truth it was difficult to wish him to do anything more lively up this 
tremendous ascent. But hungry and weary — I cannot conclude a 
harrowing picture by adding footsore — it was no doubt exasperating 
to A., whose animal, with the perverseness of Norwegian horses, 
required as much holding in as mine did urging. Yet the affliction 
had to be endured. For my own part heroically, for at every turn 
fresh beauties disclosed themselves or old ones showed up in a new 
aspect. Pine-clad hills : a view more and more extended as we 
neared the summit : a rushing torrent below us, into which we could 
look as into a shuddering depth by simply leaning to the left 
and gazing breathlessly at the living, leaping torrent. To our 
right, trees clothed the mountain, and the eye could wander up 
into the depths of tangle and briar, the slanting shadows thrown by 
the sun, the gloom beyond, into which no sight could penetrate. 
Ahead of us we could see but a very short distance, so short and 
steep were the windings ; so that the pleasures of hope — that every 
turn would prove the last — accompanied us on our way. 

We gained the summit at last, and were rewarded by a magnificent 
view of mountain ranges, range upon range, snow hills in the 
distance, far as the eye could reach. Below, stretched the great 
valley, with its plains and villages, its lakes opening out, on which 
small islands and trees and ducks disported themselves. This 
Valley of Valders is one of the grandest and most extensive views in 
Norway, with its vast range, its far-away snow-capped mountains, its 
repose and solemn solitude. And now the mountain we had just 
ascended seemed literally to laugh at us, for no sooner had we gained 
the summit on the one side than we had to commence a descent 
upon the other. Down we went, by the same winding process — 
zigzag paths, cut and cleared out of the mountain. But if we had 
ascended deliberately, we came down at a speed which had in it a 
mixture of compensation, recklessness, and exhilaration, at once de- 
lightful and renovating. In the far distance we could just see the 
snow-mountains of Jotunheim, and passed on as quickly as possible 
to the next station, Frydenlund. This was ten and a half miles 
from the last station. Void, and we had been very little short of three 
hours in accomplishing the distance. 



284 About Norway. 

Frydenlund seemed, by comparison, a very civilized and decent 
station ; and we found that by waiting half an hour we could be 
served with quite a sumptuous repast — also by comparison. A lad 
belonging to the station, the son of the hostess, spoke just enough 
English to understand our requests — very humbly preferred on our 
part, for hunger as well as conscience makes cowards of us all. In a 
short time we found ourselves in Elysium, though not exactly revel- 
ling in nectar and ambrosia : and certainly not on Olympus, since 
we were in the valley. 

Frydenlund is a somewhat important village, as villages go in 
Norway, possessing a whole staff of judicial dignitaries, including the 
Foged, or chief administrative official ; the Sorenskriver, or local 
judge, and the Lensmand, the chief constable already alluded to, who 
pays periodical visits to the different stations in the district, inspects 
the way-books, and comes down upon all sorts of offenders with the 
strong arm of the law. The reader will not be surprised to hear, after 
this, that the district prison is not very far off. It is a large white 
building, so beautifully situated, so clean and orderly, that captivity 
within its walls should scarcely be looked upon as punishment. 

The room in which our banquet was served was large, and, for a 
station, luxurious. Plants flourished in the windows and on the floor : 
great fuchsias and gorgeous geraniums, whose leaves threw out a 
subtle and delicious perfume. Excepting the wild flowers of the 
woods, our eyes had long been strangers to floral beauties of any sort, 
and these threw quite a glory into the room and turned it into a small 
paradise. A view fit for paradise, too, was that to be seen from 
the windows. The village in the plain ; the long valley ; the lakes 
studded with their small islands and waving trees ; the opposite 
mountains, stretching away far as the eye could trace, down which ran 
great waterfalls ; the deep clefts, where sight was lost in the blackness 
of night. All this we noted with delight, as soon as we bad eyes 
and thoughts for the beautiful. For if, according to the French 
proverb, *' Ventre aflame n'a point d'oreilles," it is equally true that 
under the like c©nditions we can no more appreciate the beauties of 
nature than we can listen to the strains of music or the powers of 
oratory. 

Yet contrary opinions have been expressed. I remember a lady 
once saying that she should like to live upon crystallized orange- 
blossoms (we were sitting down to supper, and some of the dainty 
confection was upon the table). The food was so poetical : any- 
thing less refined destroyed all that was ssthetical in one's nature. 
A gentleman opposite — whose name was then, and is now, in the 
first rank of poets — took up her remark, and said very openly and 
decidedly that he thought a good leg of mutton far more to the 
purpose, and for his part he preferred it. The lady opened her 
round eyes in affected horror, and then closed them in faintness, 
at such a want of the poetical in so unexpected a quarter ; and she 



About Norway, 285 

whispered me that none of her family ever saw her eat : it was too 
vulgar : too gross and unspiritualizing : all that was done in the 
privacy of her own room. 

This same lady, later in the evening, informed me that she thought 
the most delightful thing in the world must be to fly across the 
desert on the back of a dromedary — though why she preferred a 
dromedary to a camel, I did not stay to enquire. The feeling of 
unlimited space was so poetical — she was again among the poets — 
the sensation of fleeing from the vulgar herd of mankind was so 
soul-soaring in its influence ! Here she landed me out of my depth ; 
understanding collapsed, and only returned in time to see the lady 
disappearing from sight in a cloud : but when fully aroused to con- 
sciousness, I found the cloud was only of Shetland manufacture. And 
though Shetland may be the end of the earth, we have no reason 
whatever for supposing that it is the end nearest to heaven. 

We had one more station to reach that night, and darkness was 
creeping on apace as we started on our last stage. We ascended 
the long hill and gradually rose far above the valley, which lay 
sleeping below us, with the village and the lakes and the islands. 
Across one of them a boat was darting, sculled by a boy, and so far 
off did it seem, and so tiny, that until we brought our glasses to 
bear upon it, we took it to be a swan sailing majestically away to its 
home. Everything was growing indistinct, and the far-off snow 
mountains were now invisible. Beside us the hills rose as far above 
the road to the right, as the valley was below us on the left. 
Cataracts here and there ran down the sides and could be heard 
" making music " — very lovely music it was — when they could no 
longer be seen, or only dimly traced in the gathering gloom, by a 
white, silvery thread, writhing and twisting like a thing of life, 
standing out in contrast with the gloomy blackness of the trees, and 
the dark surface of the mountains. 

At about half-past ten at night, after twelve hours' almost incessant 
travelling, the post-boy with his peculiar twang — the sing-song tone of 
the Norwegians — cried out "Fagernaes!" a sound just then as 
welcome as June roses, and pointed to something ahead that could 
only be faintly discovered in the darkness. Sombre pine trees were 
about us, wrapped in the silence, and mystery of the hour. Out 
of these we issued, turned through a wide gate into an open space, 
the house loomed up before us, and in a few moments we were at 
anchor. 

The landlord was at once at the door, and welcomed us hospitably. 
We found ourselves in a building that possessed quite the dignity of 
a small hotel ; rough as regarded the staircase and sleeping rooms, 
but not without pretensions, and luxurious in comparison with our 
late experiences. The landlord, as he ushered us upstairs, informed 
us in very good English that we had the house to ourselves with 
the exception of three Dutchmen. Terrible exception, indeed. 



286 About Norway. 

though we knew it not then. You think at once, dear reader, that 
we were robbed or murdered by these Dutchmen, but you are 
wrong. They were only off before us the next morning, and during 
the remainder of that week were ahead of us on the road, taking up 
horses and carrioles, devouring everything before them like an army 
of locusts, and behaving to everyone they met with the greatest 
possible impoliteness. In the end they were voted a perfect nuisance 
by all, and a disgrace to their country. 

If anyone wishes to know what it is to have a night of sound, 
refreshing sleep, let him take as a prescription twelve hours' carriole 
travelling in Norway. The remedy is unfailing. 

At the breakfast table the next morning, the host informed us that 
the three Dutchmen had been gone about an hour, and we did not 
realize the importance of this apparently commonplace announcement. 
A pretty and quite refined-looking young woman waited upon us. I 
have never seen anyone who did this with such extraordinary quietness. 
She moved about with no more noise than a cat; until A. declared 
she gave him an uncanny, creepy feeling that was positively un- 
pleasant. We were exercised in our minds as to whether she was 
the landlord's wife or sister, and came at last to the conclusion that 
she must be the former. 

This house, once the station, is no longer so. The station, Fager- 
lund^ is a hundred yards further up the road, and also receives 
travellers : our inn was Yz-g^xnaes, It is a favourite place of resort in 
summer, and is often full of visitors. Beautifully situated on the 
borders of the lake, our host informed us that it furnishes excellent 
trout fishing, and some wild-duck shooting. The surrounding views 
for many a long mile are charming, and for this alone a few days or 
a week might be pleasantly spent here. Small islands here, too, 
were dotted about the water, and willows hung gracefully and pen- 
sively over the banks. At Fagernaes, the rough and the wild in 
Norwegian scenery had given place to the sentimental and the refined. 

The whole of that day's journey was a succession of beautiful 
scenes, varying in character, from the sublime and the severe to the 
quiet and unemotional. Now passing a wayside village or solitary 
cottage, out of which the dogs would spring barking with a furious 
noise that made us thankful that dogs are scarce in Norway : whilst 
the few villagers, the men with short jackets and gay waistcoats, 
and hats like sugar-cones, stopped their work to gaze after the way- 
farers, with less curiosity no doubt than in days gone by. Now we 
passed through long avenues of trees, that shut out the broad sun- 
light, which threw slanting shadows athwart our path. Still the road 
undulated, like the long rollers of an Atlantic sea, and one could 
almost imagine that here the ocean had once found its home. To 
our left were the calm waters of the Strandefjord; but here and there 
the calmness was turned to a rushing torrent which leaped down 
many feet in white, seething foam, breaking over huge boulders, and 



About Norway. - 287 

forcing its way through crevices in countless small cataracts, turning 
mill wheels, and giving work to men whose lives in these sublime 
scenes of nature should be inspired with a like grandeur of thought 
and sentiment. Only we know how familiarity with beauty at length 
takes from its influence : the eyes seem to be withheld : until an in- 
terruption or an absence restores the magic with the return. 

Throughout the day grand mountains were about us. Now 
vast pine forests fringed the summits and stood out like some 
delicate fretwork of nature against the clear blue background ; and 
now clear-cut outlines of more barren hills seemed to cut the sky 
sharply in twain. The first station we came to was Reien, against 
which we shall have a dark record in due time and place. Here 
we were in the neighbourhood of the Jotumheim, the highest 
mountains in Norway; and excursions lasting over a week may be 
made by those who love the excitement of danger, and are indifferent 
to fatigue. 

Half-way between Reien and Stee, the next station, we passed, 
high up on the hill-side, a comfortable looking hotel, so beautifully 
situated, that the very sight of it has left a longing to go back some 
day, and spend a month there, exploring the lovely neighbourhood, 
seeking out the reindeer, and passing whole days in trout fishing or 
wild-duck shooting. 

After Stee came Oilo, situated on the slope of the mountains. 
The fat, good-natured landlady came out and patted our horses, and 
lamented that we had driven them too fast. This was evidently her 
weak point, about which she had hallucinations. We had come at 
quite a solemn pace — by compulsion and not of preference — and the 
little horses were as fresh as when they started. They were not 
very first-rate to begin with, but even now not a hair was turned. 
In less than ten minutes we were off again from Oilo, but not before 
the good woman had affectionately hugged her cattle, and com- 
mended them to our care. 

Much of the road between Oilo and the next station, Tune, was 
cut out of the solid rock, and bordered the lake, whose deep, dark 
waters looked cold and repelling ; and every now and then a sharp 
angle in the road confronted us with a solid mass of rock, which 
concealed the way, and seemed to bar all further progress save a 
descent into the water. Occasionally we passed through short 
tunnels, blasted out of the solid stone, which suddenly transported 
us fi:om the heat of the sun to a cold dripping atmosphere, from 
which we were glad to escape. 

After a drive of about six miles through such scenery we reached 
Tune, a station celebrated all over Norway from the fact of its owner 
being a member of Parliament — and by no means a silent one either. 
We turned off the road up a steep narrow lane, all ruts and stones, 
and at a distance of some two hundred yards came to the house. 
Tune, himself, was away, perhaps looking after his parliamentary 



288 About Norway. 

duties, and the place seemed to be in charge of women folk. The 
first sight to greet us was a view of the three Dutchmen, who had 
taken possession of the whole room, chairs, tables and couches, but 
who departed five minutes after our entrance, having during that 
time behaved with as much indirect rudeness as could be condensed 
into the moments. They went off with the only available carrioles 
in the place, exulting aloud at the manner in which they had left 
those who would follow after to less good fortune than their own. 

The serving woman, a good-looking, middle-aged maiden, was 
wonderfully attentive, pressed all kinds of good things upon us, was 
distressed that we did not make an end of everything, and charged 
us very moderately at the last. As a return for so much attention 




Near Fagernaes. 

and friendly feeling, we offered her on our departure a gratuity 
which we thought only too small, but which she considered so out of 
proportion to her due, that in the humblest and most grateful manner 
she tendered us back a portion thereof. How many would possess 
this tender conscience in more civilized parts of the world ? 

Some weeks later on when we again visited the station, the woman 
recognised us in a moment, and greeted us quite as old friends. 
A beaming smile lit up her comely face; she rushed to the day- 
book, found our names all those weeks back, and pointed them out 
triumphantly. Then she turned to the Dutchmen's signatures, just 
above our own, and made a face and a gesture expressive of dislike 
and contempt. The landlord himself was at home this time ; was 
very obliging, and pretended to be nothing more than he really was. 
At home, to his guests at any rate, he was evidently not the member 



About Norway. 



289 



of Parliament, but simply the master of the station. He spoke 
English fairly well, and begged us to return later on in the year, and 
bring a party with us if possible, to shoot bears, which were a 
nuisance to the neighbourhood. Capital sport might be had, and he 
would do his best to make people comfortable. But this is dating 
forward. 

As the carrioles were out, we each had to put up with a stolkjaer, 
to our sorrow, for the next stage was one of twelve miles. The road 
was yet wilder than that which had gone before. A wonderful piece 
of engineering skill, patience and labour, cut out of the solid rock, 
and skirting the edge of the lake. Again we occasionally passed 
through a tunnel, and here and there, where small cataracts ran 
down the mountain side, a long wooden shed was erected, to cover the 




Church of Borgund. 

road and protect the traveller, and conduct the waterfall into the 
lake. But the drops filtered through, and these little diversions were 
so many shower-baths ; refreshing, perhaps, but not agreeable. 

In one place, I remember well, the road took a sharp turn to the 
left, the waters narrowed into a small channel, and on either side rose 
huge perpendicular mountains of rock, of towering height and frown- 
ing aspect, absolutely bare of the slightest verdure. Then, as the 
road turned, the lake opened out, basin-like, grand mountains de- 
veloped themselves, and threw their shadows upon the dark, cruel- 
looking water. The effect of aH this was heightened by the utter 
solitude of the whole district ; the travelling mile after mile, hour 
after hour, in the midst of such grand scenes, yet never seeing a 
creature ; the solitude unbroken even by the flight of a bird. Here, 
indeed, eagles might make their homes, unmolested by man, and 
wing their flight from peak to peak, as safe as in a desert land. The 

VOL. XXIX. u 



290 About Norway. 

road was narrow ; so narrow in parts that the edge was bordered by 
railings of pine wood, strong and massive. 

Soon after this, amidst the utmost grandeur of mountain height 
and solitude, we began to ascend. This we did for some distance, 
until at length we crossed a long wooden bridge to our right, and in 
a few moments found ourselves at Skogstad. Bennet had given us a 
stage further on for that day ; but it was now late ; the three Flying- 
Dutchmen were ahead with the horses, and the landlord said it would 
take some time to get others down from the hills : we, on our part, 
were glad of an excuse for cutting short our journey, and decided to 
remain there the night. The station is grandly situated in the 
midst of the gloomy yet beautiful mountains, the stream ever rush- 
ing past through the valley. 

The civil landlord spoke excellent English, but raised our com- 
passion and keenest sympathies. We presently heard, in the kitchen 
below, a shrew laying down the law, and elevating her voice with 
a harsh, grating sound, that penetrated to the very centre of one's 
nerves. If ever man was hen-pecked it must have been the unhappy 
lord and master of that voice — as it seemed to us. Let us hope 
we were mistaken ; but though people sometimes say that black is 
white, they do not think it. It is difficult to disbelieve the evidence 
of one's senses. Solomon has said, the rod for the child : he is silent 
about the wife : and we would not for a moment have it supposed that 
we encourage such an idea, or offer it for universal consideration : 
but in this instance, had we found the man taming the shrew with the 
aid of a broomstick, I doubt if we should have died of grief or even 
blushed for shame. After all, the line must be drawn somewhere, 
and human sympathies have their limits. 

Our host was tall, meek, and pale-faced, and what force of character 
he once possessed had evidently long since frightened itself away. 
Why will men for ever go on making these mistakes — the dove mating 
with the eagle, the wolf with the lamb, and other incongruities and 
incompatibiUties too numerous to mention ? Is it because, as Pope 
says, '' Man never is, but always to be blest " ? In such cases, 
however, does it not come to being something very near the oppo- 
site ? We afterwards learned that this woman, when the fit took her, 
would do absolutely nothing for the comfort of the visitors. 

The next morning for breakfast we succeeded in getting nothing 
better than black bread and bad coffee — no doubt because the 
woman had not recovered her amiability. Nevertheless we were 
glad to have stopped the night at Skogstad, and should do it again 
if ever we passed that way. In situation it is far more beautiful 
than Nystuen, the next station, and it possesses a new, good-sized, 
comfortable building which the enterprising landlord has erected 
for the accommodation of travellers. 

So we started once more on our journey. The ascent to Nystuen 
was steep, continuous, and long. It was here that the ascent to the 



About Norway, 291 

Fille-Fjeld commenced. Vegetation became more and more barren 
and stunted the higher we climbed, the fir trees, of which we had 
had so many, giving place to the birch and mountain willow. We 
were nearly two hours and a half reaching Nystuen, a distance of 
about ten miles. This station lies between the hills, 3,300 feet 
above the level of the sea, and is so exposed to the storms and 
gales of winter that the buildings have had to be erected parallel 
with the sides of the valley : that is, with their gables from west to 
east, whence come the most violent hurricanes : otherwise they would 
never stand the fury of the elements. 

The outlook from Nystuen is dreary and desolate, but the 
station is often full in summer. Snow hills were around us, and 
on the plain a small lake — the Utza Vand — celebrated for its trout, 
but cold, and dismal-looking. The ice, they told us, had only 
lately disappeared from the surface. Here we stayed only long 
enough to give our horses a rest : for the post-boy, who seemed to 
have taken a fancy to us, begged to accompany us further on our 
way. A little beyond this we came to the source of the Laera, 
and from this point it accompanied us to the end of our journey, 
swelling at times into a rushing mighty torrent, falling in huge 
cataracts, with a noise like the " sound of many waters," and again 
subsiding into a more tranquil mood, but always moving along 
with great speed. 

From Nystuen we followed the level of the plateau for some 
time, and then a sharp, picturesque descent landed us at Maristuen. 
From here grand excursions can be made to the top of some of 
the mountains, by those who are interested in feats of this de- 
scription : and from the height of one of them it has been said a 
I hundred glaciers may be seen. Our next stage took us to Haeg, 
I and 1,500 feet nearer the level of the sea. The descent wound 
! about the mountains, which opened up in passes leading to other 
, districts, through picturesque glens covered with wild flowers and 
j lovely ferns : and near at hand, the whole time, the rushing, noisy 
i torrent of the Laera. Vegetation grew more luxuriant and more 
beautiful. At Haeg we entered the Valley of the Laera, one of 
j the most glorious in Norway. Between this station and Husum we 
came to the ancient church of Borgund, a fantastic edifice dating 
from the twelfth century, surmounted by dragons' heads, the timber 
j black with age. Beyond stood an old belfry containing three bells, 
that are never rung for fear the whole concern should come down : 
and a lych gate was at each end of the churchyard. Tar as well as 
age has blackened the church, which was bought some time ago 
by the Antiquarian Society of Christiania. The interior and exterior 
of the church are most curious and interesting. A passage, like a 
i small cloister, runs round the outside ; the portal is elaborately orna- 
I mented with entwined snakes, and the key that opens the great door, 
' with its Runic inscription, is as old and curious as the church itself. 



292 



About Noruay. 



Not less quaint is the interior, with its great wooden pillars, and 
curious old wood carving. Unhappily, a new church has been erected 
near to the old one. It is out of harmony with the old building, 
takes from its dignity and solitary state, and has destroyed some of 




Near Husum. 



the romance of one of the grandest, wildest, and loveliest spots in 
Norway. 

Mountains in great masses fell away, opening up huge clefts and 
passes. Below the church, in a narrow defile between high recks, 
rushed the river Laera, foaming, roaring, seething, with wild fcice, 



About Norway, 



293 



defying all obstacles in its turbulent path. The old road led over 
the steep hills to the right, and this we had to follow, for there 
had been a landslip on the new road, and for the present it was 
impassable. The ravine leading beside the new road is sublime, 
w Id, and grand to the last extremity, but it was not then that 
we saw it. 

Passing the church, we ascended the steep hill, wound round, and 
once more descending into the valley, found ourselves at Husum. 
We had not changed horses or carrioles since leaving Skogstad, six 
hours ago, and thus had lost very little time on the road : and the 
horses seemed as fresh at the end as at the beginning of the journey. 
Our post-boy was a little, strong, well-made mountaineer, about 




Husum. 



twenty years of age, full of fire, and energy, and muscular develop- 
ment, who scrambled up the mountain sides like a cat after the wild 
flowers, laughed and talked incessantly, displayed his small stock of 
English, and made himself understood somehow. He was a fair, 
Saxon-looking man, and, dressed in his short blue jacket, knee- 
breeches, and brigand hat, seemed to harmonize well with the scenery. 
Towards the end he took up the guide-book, and with a familiarity 
in which there was nothing displeasing — so unconscious was it, so 
simple and frank was the fellow, so fresh, open, and genuine his 
ruddy face and clear, wide-open blue eyes — he pitched upon the 
vocabulary and phrases at the end, and reading the Norwegian in a 
clear, fluent voice, with great perseverance caught up the accent of 
the English equivalents, which he learnt off by heart as they vvere 
repeated to him. But at Husum he declared that he must go no 
further ; so we settled our money matters, and, according to the 



294 About Norway. 

universal system in Norway, he gave us a hand-grasp tliat would have 
done honour to Hercules himself. I can yet feel the honest fellow's 
expression of good-fellowship. We made him happy with what, to 
him, was a good dinner, over and above his " drikke penge," and as 
we had now to wait, whether we would or no, ordered some refresh- 
ment for ourselves. 

Husum is almost more grandly situated than any other station 
between Sorum and Laerdal. The defile is somewhat narrow, and 
the stream rushes through the valley with tremendous speed, thunder- 
ing over its rocky bed, foaming over great boulders, and seeming to 
reduce all obstacles in the course of time. Immediately in front of 
the station it has a fall of many feet : an immense volume of water, 
white, frothy, seething foam, tumbling into a perfect whirlpool of 
rage and fury ; boiling, rushing, hurling itself over at express speed 
and with terrible strength ; casting around showers of spray, and 
ascending in white steamy mist. The noise was so tremendous, that 
when close upon it we could not hear ourselves speak. But to go 
to the very edge, to sit down upon the rocks, and look over and into 
this mass of rushing waters, to watch the power of this inexhaustible 
torrent, was to lay oneself under the influence of a sublime emotion. 
The rocks here contracted into a very narrow opening, so that the 
strength and speed of the rushing torrent found itself concentrated 
into tenfold power. 

It was indeed a glorious spot. Surrounding us on all sides were 
the mountains : bare rocks to the very summit, cut and jagged, lined 
and wrinkled, as if with the burden of all the ages. Others clothed 
with furze and pine trees, with sprinklings of ferns and wild flowers : 
mountains opposing each other, and trees whispering their secrets, as 
in centuries past, when the waters were rushing onwards to the sea just 
as they were to-day : and as they will be when we in turn shall have 
given place to a generation of men and women who will know greater 
secrets than we do, and make grander discoveries. 

At length we started on our way to Blaaflaten (pronounced Blo- 
flaten : the double aa in Norwegian is pronounced like o). The 
grandeur of the pass was undiminished, the road being often cut out 
of the rock and overhanging the rushing torrent, with nothing but 
the pine fences to protect the traveller. Then all this rugged and 
sublime scene passed away in a rapid descent that landed us in a 
broad valley, luxuriant and fertile in aspect, compared with that which 
had gone before. 

Alter Blaaflaten we entered upon our last stage. I was not sorry 
to see the end of our journey at hand. Twelve or fourteen hours 
a day had proved almost too much of a good thing ; and yet I think 
we were less tired now than at the end of our first day's work. 
The novel mode of travelling; the ever-beautiful scenery; the fresh, 
sparkling air : the restful if somewhat monotonous solitude — all 
tended to keep up excitement and interest; whilst a well-earned, 



About Norway, 295 

sound rest each night went far to restore the flagging energies of the 
previous day. 

Soon after leaving Blaaflaten we came by the mountain side upon 
the first wild-rose bush I had seen for many a long day : a sight to 
bring a rush of home memories to the mind, and conjure up, as if 
by magic, scenes long gone by. Memories of early days and hours 
that are the happiest in life if we only knew it, and come not twice 
to any man : memories veiled by the sober realities of after life, until 
a flower, a scent, a song, a chime, it may be a page in an old book, 
or a letter, yellow with age, traced by a well-loved hand, suddenly 
draws aside the curtain with unsparing haste, and brings back the 
past with an emotion that is at once the keenest pleasure and pain. 
The remembrance of days when sorrow and regrets are unknown : 
when life is not disillusioned, and robbed of that charm — an unknown 
future. When its aspirations and rose-coloured dreams, that fade so 
soon never to return, are still things of sense and touch : when the 
lesson has yet to be learnt that man's heritage is care, and his best 
happiness must lie in earnest work. 

It took but a moment to stop the carriole and gather some of the 
blossoms, that were full of the homely scent of the dog-roses in our 
own country lanes. At once an invisible link stretched across the 
great space dividing the two nations, and brought them for the 
moment into tender harmony with each other. 

But we have not time to moralise now, as we had not then to 
linger. The mountains fell away, the valley widened, the stream 
expanded ; and about ten o'clock at night we reached Laerdalsoren, 
and with it the end of our journey. 

Yet our rest would only be for the night. Early the next morning 
we were to take a boat with three strong rowers, and cross a portion 
of the Sogne Fjord to Aurdal, on our road to the Vettisfos. An 
excursion of too much interest and importance to be introduced at 
the end of a paper. 



--.cdfe^^Sr^'5ffeME9*-W~-- 



296 



BETWEEN TWO STOOLS. 
By Charles Hervey. 

THE Honourable Adolphus Sharpset was in what is popularly 
called a " fix," and he knew it. His financial position might 
almost have been compared to that of Mr. Richard Swiveller, when 
he entered in his little book the names of the streets he disliked, for 
particular reasons, going down while the shops were open. It was, in 
fact, as he himself described it in his own flowery language, " a pro- 
spective case of whitewash." 

Things had been going unkindly with him for some time, but 
the climax was evidently approaching. His slender allowance as 
a younger son of Lord Scantiland, himself a needy and embarrassed 
peer, was forestalled with infinitely more regularity than it was paid; 
his " paper " was hopelessly unnegotiable, and the list of his debts 
rivalled in length at least the famous catalogue of Leporello. As, 
however, he fully recognised the principle laid down by the lamented 
Brummell respecting the folly of " muddling away one's fortune in 
paying tradesmen's bills," this latter responsibility troubled him very 
little. Provided that he could contrive to keep afloat at the 
Caravansary — a sort of nondescript club, familiarly designated by its 
members the *' Refuge " — and indulge in occasionally backing his 
fancy for the Cambridgeshire or City and Suburban, his conscience 
was tolerably easy. 

As yet he had managed, by dint of an insinuating address and, 
when it suited his purpose, an assumption of extreme affability, to 
weaken the storm, but people were becoming more and more sceptical 
touching the marketable value of his promises. His landlady in 
Bury Street had already let fall sundry broad hints that a settlement 
for the current half year would be highly convenient to her ; and 
even his tailor, formerly the most obsequious and accommodating of 
Schneiders, had peremptorily declined any further dealings with so 
unprofitable a customer. 

" So you see, old fellow," remarked the Honourable Adolphus in 
the smoking-room of the Caravansary, to his equally impecunious 
friend, Frank Lascelles, after a brief expose of the melancholy state 
of affairs, " things are about as fishy as they can be ; and if Brother 
to Merrylegs doesn't pull off the handicap, there's no help for it — I 
must go in for the widow." 

" You might do worse," replied Frank. " Three thousand a-year 
at her own disposal, besides the house in Wimpole Street and the best 
cook for curry in all London ! IMight be a trifle younger, certainly, 
but one can't have everything. And mark my words, Dolly, if you 
don't make strong running, the Major will." 



Between Two Stools. 297 

*' Confound the Major ! " 

*' With all my heart, but keep an eye on him. The cad wasn't 
born yesterday, and is as hard up as either of us. He has been un- 
lucky at whist lately, and dropped a good bit of money on the Leger ; 
so depend upon it, if he has a chance of recouping himself by marry- 
ing the widow, he won't let it slip." 

" He might have her to-morrow, and welcome," said the Honour- 
able Adolphus, " if I could only be sure of landing the sixty-six 
fifties ; not an impossible contingency by any means, if the horse is 
half the flyer they seem to think in the stable. He's going up in the 
market like a rocket, and if I chose to hedge " 

" Why don't you ? " 

" Simply because a few hundreds won't put me straight, and a few 
thousands will ; so I've no choice in the matter, and must stand the 
shot. However, it's as well to have two strings to one's bow, so I'll 
take your advice about the Mangoe, if only for the pleasure of giving 
our friend the Major the go-by. By the way, we shall meet him at 
dinner there to-day, and you'll have an opportunity of carrying on 
with that stunning girl, Alice Carruthers. Pity, for your sake, that 
she and the old lady can't change places : a waiting game is hard 
lines in the long run." 

'* Especially when there is nothing to wait for," assented Lascelles 
in a despondent tone. " A poor devil of a barrister, without a brief 
or the hope of one, and a portionless orphan with a pretty face, pour 
tout potage ; the prospect isn't over lively." 

" Something may turn up yet," encouragingly observed his com- 
panion. " That fellow Micawber found it all right in the end, you 
know." 

" And all wrong in the beginning," retorted Frank. " I fancy the 
resemblance between us is likely to stop there." 

Wimpole Street is not precisely a locality calculated to impress the 
passing stranger with any exaggerated idea of the cheerfulness of its 
population. It is eminently respectable and dingily uniform; and, 
due allowance made for the difference of architecture, instinctively 
suggests a vague reminiscence of the street of tombs at Pompeii. 
Like other parallel thoroughfares in its immediate vicinity, it pre- 
sents on either side an unbroken vista of orthodox family dwellings, 
the sole indication relative to the social status of their occupants 
being an occasional highly polished brass plate attached to the door, 
and decorated with the name of some medical or surgical practitioner ; 
or, at still rarer intervals, a manuscript advertisement of " Apartments 
to Let." 

I The house inhabited by Mrs. Mangoe, viewed externally, differed in 
no essential respect from those of her neighbours, and had evidently 
been constructed after the same pattern ; but the interior, furnished 
with every attention to comfort and luxurious elegance, was peculiarly 



298 Between Tiuo Stools, 

characteristic of its owner. Indian mattings of the finest texture, the 
softest Turkey carpets, and the most delicately woven Persian hangings 
gave a semi-oriental air to the lofty but somewhat narrowly proportioned 
rooms, while the stiff-backed chairs and slippery chintz-covered sofas, 
still religiously adhered to by certain indigenous notabihties of the 
quarter, had been advantageously replaced by the latest and most 
artistic inventions of Parisian upholstery. One of the rooms had 
been fitted up as a boudoir, and here the widow sat, awaiting the 
arrival of her guests, and watching the movements of a young and 
graceful girl engaged in selecting a bouquet of flowers and ferns from 
an adjoining miniature conservatory. 

The relict of the deceased Mangoe — in his day one of the ablest 
and shrewdest judicial functionaries of Calcutta — was a short, stout and 
middle-aged dame, with small keen eyes and a cheery, good-humoured 
face ; her grey silk dress was richly trimmed with black lace, and a 
liberal moiety of her plump little arms was literally covered with 
bracelets and bangles. Her companion, on the contrary, was indebted 
for her attractive appearance neither to milliner nor jeweller ; she 
was simply but becomingly attired in white muslin, without any other 
ornament than a single gloire de Dijon artistically entwined among 
the folds of her luxuriant chestnut hair. 

Alice Carruthers, however, needed no extraneous adjunct to the 
charm of her nineteen years and exquisitely feminine beauty. She 
was tall and slightly formed, with soft blue eyes and a complexion as 
delicate as a the rose, and it would be difficult to imagine a prettier 
picture than her slender and elegant figure bending over the freshly 
gathered store of bud and blossom — " herself a fairer flower." 
Presently, her task accomplished, she re-entered the boudoir, and 
tastefully grouped her fragrant spoils in a china vase, glancing every 
now and then at the widow, as if to solicit her approval. 

" When you have finished, child," said Mrs. Mangoe, " sit down 
by me. I have something to say before the people come. There, 
that low chair will do. Now, tell me truly, is there anything between 
you and Frank Lascelles ? " 

At this point-blank question Miss Carruthers blushed, and, after a 
momentary pause of embarrassment, stammered out : " I think he 
likes me, but " 

*' Is afraid to say so, because he is too poor to marry," interrupted 
the widow. " Am I not right ? " 

Alice nodded affirmatively. 

" I thought so, and I needn't ask your ideas on the subject, for your 
cheeks have told the tale already. Well, when I have had a talk 
with the young man about ways and means, we shall see ; he is not a 
fortune-hunter, at any rate, and that's more than can be said of 
certain gentlemen of our acquaintance. No, no, my Alice shall be 
chosen for her own pretty self or not at all, and must play her part 
of dependent on an old woman's bounty a little longer. But hush ! 



Between Two Stools. 299 

I hear footsteps on the stairs. Take your embroidery, child, and sit 
where you usually do." 

Miss Carruthers had scarcely time to rise from her chair, and 
retire to a more respectful distance from her protectress, before an 
irreproachably white-cravated butler, appearing at the door, announced 
in a sonorous tone, 

*' Major de Mogyns ! " 

The new-comer, a middle-sized individual, with stiff black hair, 
suspiciously bordering on purple, and a carefully waxed moustache, 
entered the room as jauntily as a decided tendency to obesity would 
permit, and advanced towards the widow with an air of great em- 
pressement, vouchsafing only a distant and somewhat cavalier bow 
to her fair companion. While he is inquiring in accents of the ten- 
derest solicitude after the health of " dear Mrs. Mangoe," and in- 
stalimg himself in a comfortable arm-chair by her side, it may not 
be inopportune to enlighten the reader respecting the social position 
of the gallant warrior, and explain by what means he had contrived 
to obtain admittance on so apparently intimate a footing to No. 
200A, Wimpole Street. 

Major de Mogyns, then, or, as he was habitually styled at the 
Caravansary, ** the Major," possibly because no other of its members 
possessed any claim to a similar distinctive title, had borne during the 
earlier part of his career the less euphonious but more legitimate 
name of Muggins, which he subsequently discarded together with all 
reminiscences of an obscure parentage, and of a family still vege- 
tating in the dingy atmosphere of a small manufacturing town. Whence 
he derived his miHtary grade, or to what regiment he had belonged, 
no one precisely knew, his allusions to such topics being of the 
vaguest ; but it was generally supposed, from his evident familiarity 
with life in India, that he had been at some time or other attached 
to a native corps. He had become acquainted with the husband of 
his hostess in Calcutta, and afterwards renewed his intercourse with 
him at Cheltenham, a favourite resort of the retired civilian. It 
was there that the latter first met the Honourable Adolphus, during a 
flying trip of the sporting patrician to Gloucestershire on the occasion 
of a steeple-chase, where he himself was among the competitors; and 
it may parenthetically be added, disappointed his backers by an 
untimely " cropper " at the second fence. 

Since the death of Mr. Mangoe, the Major had continued to 
cultivate the society of his widow, and from the period of her in- 
stallation in London seldom allowed many days to elapse without 
finding his way to Wimpole Street, and neglected no opportunity 
of assuming the rights and privileges of "Tami de la maison." 
Sharpset's visits, on the contrary, were few and far between; but 
when he did appear, his respectful devotion to the lady of the 
house was gall and wormwood to his military rival, who hated him 
cordially, and sought by every means in his power to disparage 



300 Between Two Stools, 

him in the eyes of her whom he already looked upon as the future 
Mrs. de Mogyns. What the widow's private opinion as to the 
likelihood of that event may have been we can only conjecture, 
for she prudently kept it to herself; but it is certain that the Major, 
with or without reason, chose to consider himself a favoured 
suitor, and was in the best of spirits accordingly. 

He was still complacently occupied in "making running," when 
a ring at the hall door heralded the approach of the two remaining 
guests ; a few minutes later the party descended to the dining-room, 
the Honourable Adolphus naturally pairing off with Mrs. Mangoe, 
and de Mogyns offering his arm with an air of subUme protection 
to Alice, while Frank Lascelles, inwardly chafing, followed part- 
nerless in the rear. Thanks, however, to the friendly sociability 
of a round table, he found himself seated beside the object of his 
affections, and was consequently in the seventh heaven ; but although 
she blushed very much when spoken to, she nevertheless studiously 
avoided responding otherwise than by monosyllables to his attempts 
at conversation. Sharpset was in high force, and discoursed in- 
cessantly on current and fashionable topics, to the infinite disgust 
of the Major, who, unable to get in more than a word here and 
there, and disdaining to waste his eloquence on so unremunerative 
an auditor as Miss Carruthers, fidgeted sulkily in his chair, and 
drank more champagne than was good for him. When the ladies 
had retired, and the claret had made its circuit, he thawed a little, 
and condescended to ask what were the latest odds on the coming 
handicap. 

*' Five to one on the field," replied the Honourable Adolphus. 
" Fifteen against Brother to Merrylegs." 

" Ah ! " said de Mogyns drily. '' You've backed him, I hear ? " 

''Rather!" 

The Major filled his glass, and looked oracular. " Oh," said he 
again, " he won't win. Halford's mare can give him six pounds, 
and beat him in a walk." 

** What, Dulcibella ! Not if he knows it," retorted Sharpset. 
**She was a length and a half behind him in the Chester Cup." 

A long discussion ensued respecting the comparative merits and 
performances of the animal in question, during which Frank, who 
had metal more attractive upstairs, slipped quietly out of the room, 
leaving the two worthies tete-a-tete. When they at length made 
their appearance, both the widow and Lascelles seemed preoccupied, 
and indisposed to talk ; while Alice, bending over her embroidery 
frame, played propriety in a corner. Contrary, therefore, to the 
usual habits of the house, the party broke up early, and the trio 
strolled together as far as the Caravansary, where the Major, who 
was longing for his rubber, at once adjourned to the card room. 

" What on earth has come to you to-night, Frank ?" inquired the 
Honourable Adolphus, when he and his friend were alone. " You 






Between Two Stools. 301 

gave us the slip at dessert, and have hardly spoken a word since. If 
that is the result of passing an evening with one's lady-love, courtship 
must be an uncommonly uphill game. Isn't Miss Barkis willing ? " 

** I wasn't thinking about her," replied Lascelles, "but about what 
happened before you came upstairs. I had to undergo a regular 
cross-examination concerning the state of my finances and my pro- 
spects at the bar, and I will say that for our amiable hostess, Ballan- 
tine couldn't have done it better. She turned me inside out like a 
glove." 

" Put you through your paces, eh ? " said Sharpset. 

" Exactly, and the worst of it was, I fancied that Alice enjoyed 
my embarrassment, though she tried hard to prevent my seeing it. 
Altogether, I felt extremely uncomfortable." 

" Like our friend the Major at dinner," remarked his companion, 
chuckling at the recollection. " I think I managed to put a spoke 
in his wheel to-night. He won't find it a walk over, I'll answer for 
that." 

" Then you really intend going in for the widow ? " 

** Most decidedly. It's a safer spec than Brother to Merrylegs." 

** I don't know about that," said the barrister doubtfully. "From 
what I have seen of her this evening, if I had the choice, I would 
rather depend on the horse ! " 

The Honourable Adolphus was not a man to let the grass grow 
under his feet ; whatever he made up his mind to do, he did quickly 
and thoroughly, or, according to his own particular phraseology, 
"came with a rush." This natural impulse to take time by the fore- 
lock was strengthened in the present instance by two additional 
incentives to exertion, namely, the desire to cut out de Mogyns, and, 
what was still more important under the circumstances, the deplorable 
condition of his finances. It now only wanted a week to the race, 
and if by that period he had not succeeded in one or the other of his 
projects, he was, as he himself expressed it, a "gone coon." 

Determined, therefore, to prosecute the siege with vigour, he rarely 
let an afternoon go by without a pilgrimage to Wimpole Street, but at 
whatever hour he happened to arrive, he invariably found the Major 
there before him ; and though on every occasion he prolonged his 
visit to an unconscionable length, never by any chance was he even 
for a moment alone with the widow. The conversation being thus 
limited to generalities, neither party had an opportunity of ascertaining 
who held the first place in the lady's good graces ; and as she care- 
fully abstained from showing the slightest preference for either, and 
accepted their complimentary tributes to her looks and dress as a 
mere matter of course, they can hardly be said to have gained much 
by their chivalrous devotion. 

This unpromising state of things continued until the day preceding 
that on which the handicap was to be decided, when Frank, who had 



302 Between Two Stools. 

employed the interval since his last meeting with Alice in heroic but 
ineffectual efforts to impress the attorneys of his acquaintance with a 
favourable idea of his forensic abilities, received the following note : 

" Wimpole Street, Monday. 

" Dear Mr. Lascelles, — Could you possibly oblige me with a 
call early to-morrow morning ? I wish to consult you on a little 
matter of business. — Sincerely yours, 

'■'■ Emily Mangoe." 

*' What can this mean ? " he thought. ** Why should she apply to 
me of all people in the world — unless, indeed," as an idea struck him, 
" she wants to pump me about Dolly ! I had better look him up at 
any rate, and ascertain how the land lies before I go ; for if she does 
intend to marry him — which I don't believe — I shall be in the 
witness-box again for a certainty ! " 

Late on the same afternoon he found his friend, as he had 
anticipated, in the smoking-room of the club, highly elated at the 
steady advance in the betting of Brother to Merrylegs, who, his 
backer exultingly declared, was now nearly as good a favourite as 
anything in the race. When Lascelles informed him of his summons 
to Wimpole Street, Sharpset emphatically affirmed that nothing could 
be more satisfactorily conclusive. "Don't you see her drift?" he 
argued; "she can't say *yes' before she's asked, so she lets me 
know in a roundabout way that the sooner I do ask her the better. 
I'll look in there to-morrow before the telegrams come, and strike 
while the iron's hot. I tell you candidly, old fellow, I shouldn't be 
in the least surprised if I landed the double event." 

" / should," thought Frank, as the friends separated. 

Soon after eleven on the following morning the young law}'er was 
ushered into the widow's boudoir ; she was alone, and received him 
with her usual cordiality, but with a gravity of manner by no means 
habitual to her. " I was anxious to see you, Mr. Lascelles," she 
began, " for I have to ask your opinion on a subject which, if I do 
not mistake, interests us both. Sit down here," she added, pointing 
to a chair beside her, " and let me tell my story my own way, as 
clearly and as briefly as I can." 

Frank bowed and obeyed her, wondering what was coming 
next. 

" Since my arrival in England from India," she continued, " an 
old friend, to whom my husband from motives of gratitude was 
sincerely attached, died in Calcutta, partly from grief at the loss of 
his wife, partly from a sudden reverse of fortune, which had reduced 
him from a state of affluence to absolute poverty. He left one 
daughter, who had been for some years, on account of delicate 
health, under the charge of an aunt in Devonshire, the widow of an 
officer, and in receipt of a small annual pension. She also died a 



Between Two Stools. 303 

few months ago, and I immediately sent for the young girl — you will 
already have guessed that I am speaking of Alice Carruthers — and 
installed her here as my companion. You are wondering, no doubt, 
why I am telling you this, but I have as good eyes as most people, 
and have noticed the direction of yours pretty accurately whenever 
you have been here. I am perfectly aware that the circumstances 
you alluded to the other evening have alone prevented you from 
asking my protegee to be your wife, and as I have an idea that she 
is not altogether disinclined to listen favourably to such a proposal 
on your part, I intend helping you as far as I can. My adopted 
daughter — you have never heard of her, but you will see her here 
some day — will of course inherit the bulk of my property, but when 
Alice marries, three hundred a-year will be settled on her ; it is not 
much to begin housekeeping upon, but your own exertions must 
supply the rest. What do you say ? " 

" What can I say," cried Frank, radiant with delight, *' but that 
you are the best and kindest of women, and I the happiest of men ! " 

*' Not quite so fast," interrupted Mrs. Mangoe, with a smile, 
" there is another person to be consulted, and I will send her to you 
that you may plead your cause yourself I expect Major de Mogyns 
this morning," she added, with a merry twinkle of her eye, and as I 
have not hitherto mentioned the existence of my adopted daughter 
either to him or your friend Mr. Sharpset, I think it as well for 
several reasons that I should do so to-day. Perhaps you understand 
why ! " and without waiting for an answer, she left the boudoir. 
Shortly after, Alice made her wished-for appearance, and exactly at 
the same moment the Major, gorgeously attired, and with an air of 
supreme self-confidence, entered the drawing-room, where the widow 
was ready to receive him. 

Of the interview between the lovers we need merely say that it 
was very long and perfectly satisfactory, and only abridged by a sum- 
mons to the luncheon table. They found Mrs. Mangoe endeavouring 
to check an uncontrollable inclination to laugh. 

" I really ought to be ashamed of myself," she said, " but I can't 
help it, the man's face was too ridiculous. He had a new coat on, 
with a flower in his button-hole, and his whiskers were fresh dyed for 
the occasion : quite the bridegroom as he evidently thought, and was 
so terribly impatient to come to the point, I suppose for fear of in- 
terruption, that he stammered out his phrases like a school-boy. 
However, their meaning was clear enough, so I cut him short without 
any ceremony by a flat refusal. At first, he seemed as if he couldn't 
believe his ears, and looked so utterly woe-begone that I had pity on 
him, told him plainly that it would be his own fault if we did not 
remain good friends, and asked him to dinner next week. Just as 
he was going away, Warner brought him a telegram which had been 
sent on from his club ; he asked my permission to open it, turned 
very pale, and muttering something I could not understand about 



304 Between Two Stools. 

scratching a mare, took leave of me abruptly, and hurried away. 
What did he mean, Mr. Lascelles ? " 

" That he has the same ill luck at Newmarket as in Wimpole 
Street, I fancy," replied Frank. " He expected to win a large stake 
to-day by backing a mare called Dulcibella, and from what you say 
she must have been struck out of the race. I have no particular 
liking for the Major, but I have been so fortunate myself that I am 
almost sorry for him." 

" More fortunate perhaps than you imagine," said the widow. 
" Don't you think, Alice, we may tell him all ? " 

" I think we may," replied Miss Carruthers, glancing slily at her 
betrothed. 

*' Well then, Frank — I shall call you so in future, mind — I must 
say that whatever your faults may be, and I'll warrant you have plenty, 
curiosity is not one of them." 

*' How so, my dear madam ? " inquired the barrister. 

" My good sir, if you had been a woman, and had heard me speak 
of an adopted daughter, of whose existence you had not the re- 
motest idea, you would never have rested until you had found out 
who she was, and all about her." 

*' Ah, yes, I remember," said Lascelles, "but I am afraid that I 
hardly listened to what you were saying. I was thinking " 

" Of somebody else ! Very natural perhaps, but not over polite. 
However, when you see her, you will own that she is a charming girl." 

" No doubt," said Frank, feeling that he was expected to say 
something. 

" A sweet pretty creature," continued the widow, " with the softest 
blue eyes and the loveliest fair hair imaginable, and a complexion 
like alabaster." 

*'But, my dear Mrs. Mangoe," laughingly observed the young man, 
'* if you were talking of Alice, you could not have described her 
more exactly." 

"And of whom but Alice do you suppose I am talking?" retorted 
the lady. " Is she not my adopted daughter, and have you only 
just found it out, you silly fellow ? " 

Before Frank could answer, the door opened, and the butler, his 
face redder than usual, for he had been disturbed at his dinner, 
announced that Mr. Sharpset was in the drawing-room. 

" Bless me ! " exclaimed the widow, rising hastily from her chair, 
"I had quite forgotten he was coming. Alice must tell you the rest. 
If it's the old story over again," she said to herself as she went up 
stairs, " I shall have easier work with him than with the Major ! " 

She was apparently right in her previsions;, for in less than a 
quarter of an hour the Honourable Adolphus, closing the street door 
with a tremendous bang, jumped into a Hansom which was in wait- 
ing, and bade the driver "bowl away like bricks" to the Caravansary. 



\ 



Between Two Stools. 305 

"Floored!" he muttered as he lit a cigar, "regularly up a tree! 
Frank was right in recommending me to trust to the horse. It's my 
only chance now. Might as well have been on the course after all — 
wish I had ! Half-past three, by Jove ! " he added, consulting his 
watch, "the news must have arrived by this time. Push along, 
cabby ! " 

" Cabby " was equal to the occasion, and a few minutes later 
landed his fare at the club door. There stood the Major, smoking 
his cheroot, his eyes twinkling maliciously as he recognised the new 
comer. 

" Who's won?" shouted the Honourable Adolphus, darting out of 
the vehicle. 

" Lightfoot by a neck," curtly replied de Mogyns, looking his 
questioner full in the face to see how he took it ; " Achilles second, 
Dorchester third." 

Sharpset stared at him for a moment, as if unable to realise what 
he heard. "And Brother to Merrylegs," he gasped, "where was he?" 

" Brother to Merrylegs," slowly repeated the Major, inwardly en- 
joying his rival's mortification. "Nowhere." 

" Not scratched ? " 

"Pretty nearly the same thing as far as his backers (with a satirical 
emphasis on the word) are concerned," responded his tormentor. 
" Brother to Merrylegs was left at the post ! " 



■-8*«f«:<^2r^^fifcSuR^>-r^ 



VOL. XXIX. 



3o6 



A RARE CASE. 

THERE was a sea fog that day. It surrounded on all sides the 
lonely-looking house on the cliff's edge. The house was not 
really lonely ; but a turn in the road hid it from the coastguard 
station, a short mile beyond which lay a busy, populous, sea-side 
town. From the back of the building the downs swept upwards in 
gentle undulations ; here and there, where the hill-side fields had 
been turned up by the plough, the clay showed reddish brown when 
the fog lifted ; everywhere else a tender green hue was spread, from 
the thin ears of spring wheat, or the grass on the pasture land. The 
spot was so little lonely in reality that noises from the town mingled 
with the murmur of the waves upon the beach below. 

You might have fancied it a place from whence no cry for help 
could be heard ; a place for a misanthrope to live alone in ; a fitting 
spot to be the scene of a wayside robbery. Desolate it certainly was, 
without any fancy in the matter. Nothing like a tree sheltered it ; 
there were only the fields, the sky, and the waste of waters beyond 
the cliff's edge. The plaster had fallen from the walls, and left 
brown patches on them here and there. The garden was overgrown 
with weeds, and one or two outbuildings at the rear had been 
suffered to fall altogether into disrepair. The fact was the house 
was no longer used as the dwelling-house to the farm upon which it 
stood, but was to let, if anyone could be found to take it. Meantime 
it was in the charge of the young woman, scarcely past girlhood, 
who was leaning against the top bar of the gate and looking out into 
the fog. 

She might have been watching for the tenant that never came, for 
at every sound upon the road she listened intently, and turned her 
head to follow with her eyes the different vehicles that from time to 
time came out of the fog on her right hand to vanish into the fog on 
her left, like phantom visitors from a world beyond. 

Perhaps this idea of phantom visitors had suggested itself to the 
girl, for her eyes looked frightened, and her restless glance betrayed 
a mind ill at ease. Her lips moved too, as though from living much 
alone she had contracted a habit of talking to herself Indifferent 
passers-by, chancing to notice the figure at the gate, saw only just the 
sort of person one would expect to see in such a place. Others who 
looked more attentively might have seen an unhappy, terrified girl, 
not yet accustomed to the place she filled just now ; one for whom 
it might have been better to have a friend at hand ; one for whom 
it might not be well to live alone. 

*' She be there again," remarked one of two men, walking at the 
head of a team of horses drawing a waggon-load of coals. 



A Rare Case. 307 

" She be always there," repHed his companion. '* I've come along 
days, and I've come along nights ; I've passed by Stonedene in fair 
weather, and in storms as threatened to send the waggon over the 
cliff; and days or nights, fair weather or foul, I've seen her on the 
watch." 

" On the look-out for a tenant for Master Drew," said the first 
speaker, cracking the long cart-whip in his hand. 

" Aye; so it would appear." 

" Yet the house doesn't let," remarked the other, looking back 
over his shoulder as they passed the gate. 

*' Nor it won't let ! Why, who'd take it ? Who in their senses 
leastwise ? " 

" Along of it being that much out of repair, you mean ? " 

" I don't mean no such thing. What's a day's work or so about 
a place like that ? It won't let because it's an unlucky house. Drew 
is an unlucky man, and always was. There's a spell upon the house. 
Who but Drew would have put a mad woman in for to take charge 
of it? There's a spell upon it, I say." 

Both men looked back, but the house was no longer visible ; the 
fog hid it. 

The next person to pass along the road was Drew himself; and it 
must be allowed that if Drew was really an unlucky man, he failed to 
look the part. There was about him a certain cheerfulness of aspect 
that might have defied the worst ill-luck could do him. It was in 
the cheerfulest of voices too, that, half checking the horse in the shafts 
of the light cart he drove, he called out a greeting to his care-taker 
as he went by : or would have gone by, had not an imploring gesture 
of her hand induced him to pull up altogether. 

The gate at which she stood opened upon a farm track leading to 
the crest of the Downs. The door of the house was at the side of 
the track, and just within the gate which the young woman now 
threw open. 

" Must I turn in, ma'am ? " said the farmer, in his hearty voice. 
"Well, if there's no help for it, I suppose I must, though time 
presses with me this afternoon." 

" Do I trouble you so often that you grudge me a few minutes ? 
When I asked you to leave me here I promised to give no trouble ; 
I have kept my word," she said. 

" You have — to be sure you have ; the more reason I should turn 
in now, or at any time when you make a point of it. Maybe, it is 
in my interest you make a point of it to-day ; you think I should see 
to the place a bit ; there's more plaster fallen. No chance of a 
tenant with a house in this state." 

"It is an unlucky house; or so they say," she replied, glancing 
carelessly round upon the fallen plaster lying where it fell, and the 
tangled weeds in the garden. 

" I don't hold with ill-luck. Law bless you, ma'am ! I've seen 



3o8 A Rare Case, 

too much of life for that. A man makes his own luck — and a 
woman too." 

The girl shook her head impatiently. 

" I tell you they call it an unlucky house. What has it been to 
me? and you — did you do so well here that you can afford to laugh 
at the notion ? " 

" Times were hard," he said; 'Muck had naught to do with it; 
and times have mended with me since. But if you don't like the 
house, why not leave it ? " 

" I must earn my living," she returned, quickly. "He would be 
better pleased I should do that alone as I am here, than in the old 
way. I am sure of it, Mr. Drew." 

"If the house lets " began the farmer, but she cut short his 

speech. 

"If it lets I will come back to you; but till it does some one 
must be here, and why not I as well as another ? There was a 
gentleman came to look over it only the other day." 

" You told him what a lonesome seeming place it was, for all it 
stands so near the town," said the farmer, with a somewhat rueful 
look upon his round and cheery countenance. 

"I did," she replied, eagerly; "and how the wind sweeps across 
the Downs ; or when it blows from the sea on stormy days is so 
strong and fierce you can scarce keep your feet outside the door." 
" And how warm it is in summer," Drew suggested. 
"Certainly; I told him that as well — how there is no speck of 
shade anywhere within sight, except the shadow thrown by the house 
itself — an unlucky house, Mr. Drew." 

" Aye ; I've no doubt you told him all about it, and that he went 
away fully satisfied, and with no notion of coming to me or of 
wanting any further information," said Drew, drily. " That's about all 
the ill-luck there is, I take it — that I get no tenant." 

He knew very well that he should get none as long as this woman 
was here ; this woman who, amongst all the misfortunes she had 
known, would count it the greatest that could still befall her should 
she have to leave Stonedene. 

" You have heard nothing ? " she asked, after a moment or two of 
silence, during which her eyes had turned again to watch the road 
before the gate. " You would be sure and tell me if you had. It 
was to you he said — what did he say ? Tell me the words again." 
She drew a step or two nearer, and laid her hand upon the side of 
the cart as she spoke. 

" It was on the Downs " he began, but she interrupted him 

again, and took up the tale herself. 

" Yes, with the sheep feeding all round. You two were alone — he 
had sent me back. The bells were linging in the churches of the 

town — I hear them now : it was on the Downs, and he said " 

"We walked a bit together," Drew went on, as though by 



A Rare Case. 309 

lengthening the narrative he sought to calm her, and yet knew it 
would all end as it had ended many times before. " It was a 
summer afternoon and everything was very still and peaceful, and 
when it came to good-bye between us, he just wrung my hand, 
and said, ' Take care of my wife, Drew, till I come back.' " 

"Till he comes back ! Oh, listen to the waves upon the shore ! " 
she cried. *' Till he comes back 1 " and with that fell to bitter 
weeping. 

Her distress, which he had seen growing, and which he knew of 
old would overcome her at the repetition of the words he would 
have spared her if he could, but which she forced from his lips each 
time they spoke together, had an odd effect upon Drew. The 
respectful tone in which he had hitherto addressed her changed at 
once to one more familiar ; he leant down from the cart and patted 
her upon the shoulder. 

" Mattie ! why, Mattie ! this will never do. I've told you before 
that it looks as though you did not trust him after all." 
" I do trust him," she sobbed. 

''Of course you do; who should if we did not, you and I, who 
know him for a good man ? " 

" That's what I say ! " she exclaimed ; " but I like to hear you 
say it too. I called you in to-day to hear it, Mr. Drew." 

" Come over to the farm and hear it there," he replied. But she 
stepped back from the cart hurriedly, crying that others did not think 
as he thought, that he knew as well as she did what others said, and 
what tale she would hear from them if she went to the farm. 

Drew, ruefully conscious that "others" meant in this case his sister 
Eliza, looked somewhat crestfallen for a moment, then cheered up 
again, and bid the young girl take heart and remember that she had 
one friend to stand by her still. 

" You do me good always," she said at last, with an effort 
recovering the manner in which she had first addressed him : thereby 
seeming, as it were, to motion him back again to the greater distance 
that had appeared to separate them then. " Living alone, I grow 
faint-hearted at times — never doubting him, you understand ; never 
for one instant doubting him ; only fearing he may be dead. What 
else could keep him from me ? And if it is death, why that is the 
will of God, and I shall be reconciled to it in time — only, it is weary 
waiting." 

"Wait and trust a while longer, ma'am," said the farmer; "we 
shall know the rights of it all some day. I've said so again and 
again, and I repeat it now. This fog hides the sky, maybe, but the 
sky's there all the same. Don't you get down-hearted, but wait and 
trust awhile longer." 

He gathered up the reins as he spoke, and with one more cheerful 
" good-bye " disappeared along the track leading straight upwards to 
the crest of the Downs, in which direction his land lay, and the 



310 A Rare Case, 

house he now occupied. Having been delayed so long, he changed 
his mind about proceeding to the town and went towards home at 
once. 

"What will be the end of it ? I can see no further ahead in my 
mind than I can see through this fog to-day," he muttered to himself, 
as the wheels jolted along the uneven road, and the mist crept round 
him. " It has been a queer business, and just my luck that it should 
happen to Mattie of all people in the world." 

Mattie's story was simple enough. Anyone would have told you 
it has been repeated often and often in the world's history : a 
common tale, and not surprising in the least. If Drew was surprised 
at the wrong in it, that was only because wrong was apt to surprise 
him. He found it easier to believe in right, and to credit men with 
good intentions. mk 

The orphan child of a former servant in a wealthy family, Mattie 
had shared the lessons and the play of the young daughter of the 
house, until a time came when it was convenient to turn the 
humble companion adrift to work for herself. It may have been a 
piece of the ill-luck his neighbours ascribed to Drew, that it should 
have been to his farm the girl came as help to his sister, or it may 
have been a piece of his constitutional good-nature that made him 
agree to take under his roof this pretty lass, untrained for service 
and educated far above her station. He heard of her quite accidentally 
through the steward of the people who had hitherto befriended her. 
As for them, they were relieved to hear of a good home for her, and 
one far away from the park-like, heathy land, with its pines and 
chestnuts, in which pleasant place Mattie's lines had hitherto fallen. 

Mattie had been given an education that might have satisfied a School 
Board inspector of to-day, and had moreover caught up little refinements 
of speech and manner that made her quite a superior young woman. 
She might have gone out as a nursery governess, but expressed 
herself more satisfied with a country life in a farm-house where there 
was a young child to look after, and light work required of her. The 
awakening was rude when her patrons said carelessly that the time was 
come for her to do something for herself, and that a suitable situation 
should be found for her. Mattie had a spirit of her own; she did not wait 
to s.ee what would be done for her, but sought the steward, always a 
good friend of hers, and through him found a situation for herself: 
glad that it took her into quite another part of Sussex, and far from 
all old associations. 

Drew's widowed sister, Mrs. Bankes, who lived with him, and 
whose child it was Mattie had come to nurse, amongst other duties too 
numerous to mention, for there was but one servant kept — Drew's 
sister exclaimed in despair when the farmer brought home the young, 
lady-like, delicate-looking girl : 

" We want a strong, hard-working lass ! This one does not know 
her right hand from her left. She is as good as a lady — or as bad, 



A Rare Case. 311 

and has never milked a cow in her life ! What were you thinking of 
to bring her here ? " 

" She came in my way. I suppose you can teach her. She has 
not a friend in the world to look to." 
" She will not be worth her wages." 

"Ah ! that's just my luck : well, we must do the best we can with 
her. If the steward had never mentioned her to me, now — but then 
he did mention her, and here she is." 

There she was, and there she stayed. Apt to learn, willing to be 
taught, grateful for the real kindness she met with, Mattie was soon 
the best hand at milking for miles round, soon devoted to the baby. 
Three years passed quietly, and then came the romance of Mattie's life. 
She was twenty that summer, and Adam Armitage, a grave man, 
was fully ten years her senior. A great traveller, member of a world- 
renowned scientific society, a student and discoverer — he was, between 
two scientific expeditions, refreshing heart and brain by a walking 
tour through the home counties. He had wandered over the level 
marsh lands, losing his way among the watercourses ; sauntered 
through lanes whose hedges were one tangle of wild flowers ; past 
villages embosomed in trees, old manors with spreading oaks and 
leafy beeches, and deer standing knee-deep in ferns. Then away 
over the Downs, walking for miles along the breezy crest of them, 
a wide panorama on either hand, and beneath the foot a grassy track, 
hardly visible at times, but reappearing again : and if faithfully 
followed leading straight to the sea-side town near to which was Drew's 
farm, and Mattie milking her cows, playing with the child amongst 
the hay, singing at her work, and all unconscious of coming fate. 

Adam's walking tour ended at the farm Drew had taken only a year 
before, and the dwelling-house it had been found more convenient to 
inhabit than the smaller building on the old land close to the road. 
Mr. Armitage found the pure air of the Downs good for him. He 
hired a little upper chamber, from the window of which one could 
inhale the strong sea breeze that yet came to it, subtly scented from 
the blossoming clover across which it blew. He made friends with 
all the family. To Mattie it was delightful to meet once more some 
one with all the tricks of speech and manner of the more refined 
society amongst which her youth had been passed. Little Harry 
followed this new friend wherever he went ; Harry's mother called 
him a right-down pleasant gentleman; the farmer called him a good 
man.. 

Drew took this idea from the long talks the men had together, 
and to which Mattie would listen, humbly feeling that, in spite of her 
own superior education, the farmer had more in common with Mr. 
Armitage, and understood him better than she could. Living in 
a practical work-a-day world himself, the world of science had a 
wonderful fascination for Drew. He liked few things better than to 
hear of recent discoveries, and the light thrown by them upon re- 



312 A Rare Case, 

vealed religion. For to the farmer it was light and not darkness. He 
was not afraid of new ideas ; not afraid of growth even in religion, or 
that, in growing, it should not adapt itself to the progress of knowledge. 
Drew found Christianity quite elastic enough for that, and said that 
tne one Truth could be made to embrace all truths. Adam Armitage 
was a man after the farmer's own heart. He did not know much 
about his guest ; indeed no one questioned him as to who he was or 
whence he came; it was from what he knew of him personally — of his 
thoughts, and words, and ways, that Drew called him a good man. 

They all missed him when he went away, Mattie most of all ; but 
the following summer saw him there again, a welcome old friend this 
time, and no stranger. 

Drew, a keen observer of all that went on around him, was not so 
much taken by surprise as his sister was, when one day, towards the 
end of this second visit, Adam and Mattie were both mysteriously 
missing. A strong-armed country lass made her appearance before 
night. She was the bearer of a note from Mattie, confessing that she 
and Mr. Armitage were married, and hoping the little servant sent 
might supply her place so that no one would be inconvenienced. 
Drew might shake his head and look thoughtful, but Mr. Armitage 
was his own master, and it was not the first time a gentleman had 
married a country lass. Besides, the deed was done, and past recall. 
They had gone quietly to one of the churches in the town from 
whence the sound of bells floated up to the farm, and had been 
married by special licence. Adam had taken a lodging for his 
bride, and there they passed one brief, bright week of happiness ; 
then one morning walked quietly back together, Mattie blushing and 
smiling, and looking so lovely and ladylike in a simple dress such as 
she used to wear before she came to the farm, that they hardly knew 
her. 

Adam explained that he meant to leave his wife for two days — no 
more — in the care of her old friends ; at the end of that time he 
would return to fetch her. There were arrangements to make with 
regard to the scientific expedition about to start immediately. It 
would sail without him now, but it behoved him to do his best that 
his place should be as well filled as might be. There was also his 
mother to see, and to prepare for receiving Mattie. In a day or two 
at farthest he would be back. 

Mattie walked a little way with her husband and the farmer, along 
the breezy uplands, and then Adam sent her back, and hastened his 
own steps in the direction of the little station at the foot of the 
Downs. When he came again he said, laughing, that it would be 

from B Station, and that he would drive in a fly through the 

Stonedene Gate and along the track, the only approach to a carriage 
road leading to the farm. 

*' I shall have a box of fine things to bring for my little wife," he 
cried, casting a loving glance at the lovely face at his side. 



I 



A Rare Case. 3 1 3 

Mattie answered that she wanted no fine things, but went away 
smiling as he meant she should do, and only paused now and then 
to look after the two men as long as they remained in sight. It was 
natural that she should feel a little afraid of this unknown lady, 
Adam's mother, but that fear was the only shadow on Mattie's path. 
She had given her heart frankly away, and an instinct seemed to 
assure her that she had given it into safe keeping. It was an idyll, 
a poem, as true a love story as the world has seen, that had written 
itself here in this out-of-the-way spot on the lonely Sussex Downs : 
and for two days longer Mattie was in Paradise — a foors Paradise, 
Eliza Bankes said later. 

On the third day they might look for Adam to return, but that 
day passed, and many another, until the days were weeks, and the 
weeks months, and he neither came nor wrote. Mattie remembered 
how when she had turned to look back for the last time upon that 
homeward walk, she had seen his figure distinct against the sky for 
one instant, and in the next lost it entirely as he passed out of sight 
over the swelling line of hills. Just so she seemed to have lost him 
in one instant out of her life. And yet, she never lost faith and 
trust in him ; never ceased to watch for his coming again. 

It was not long before Mrs. Bankes, who had once believed in him 
as much as any of them, began to shrug her shoulders, and remark 
that it was a poor tale, but a common one enough. Mattie had 
had her way, and made Mr. Armitage marry her, but he had 
regretted it as soon as the deed was done ; they would never see 
anything more of him ; she might make up her mind to that ; only 
Drew ought to hunt him out and force him to make Mattie an 
allowance, or do something — Mrs. Bankes did not clearly specify 
what — to make it up to her, since it was evident that, supposing the 
marriage was a true one — and how could they tell whether it was or 
not when the girl had gone off in that sly way by herself, which was 
not by any means conduct they had a right to expect from her — 
even if the marriage was a true one and Mattie a wife at all, what 
was she but a deserted wife for the rest of her days ? 

Drew after a time, either goaded to the step by his sister's loud- 
voiced arguments, or prompted to it by his own sense of what was 
due to Mattie, not only took pains to ascertain that the marriage was 
real enough, but the further pains of searching for and finding the 
address of Adam Armitage in London. By that time Mattie had 
fully made up her mind that her husband had, after all, sailed with 
the expedition, and that his letters to herself had either miscarried 
or been intercepted. She was ready to make up her mind to 
anything rather than to admit the faintest suggestion that he was 
false to her and to himself — to the high standard that she knew, 
and that the farmer knew, was the one by which Adam measured 
men and things, and his own life and conduct. It was strange how 
this girl and her former master both trusted Adam in the face of his 



314 A Rai'e Case. 

inexplicable silence ; in the face of even a more ominous discovery 
made by Drew when in town — the discovery that he had never 
mentioned Mattie's name to his mother, or alluded to Mattie at all. 
As for Adam, Mrs. Armitage had declared he was not with her then, 
and that she could not give an address that would find him : an 
assertion that confirmed Mattie in the idea that he had started on 
those far-away travels he had so often spoken of to her. 

As autumn passed and the evenings grew chill with the breath of 
the coming winter, Mattie's health seemed to fail. The deep 
melancholy that oppressed her threatened to break the springs of 
life. In order to escape from Mrs. Bankes the girl took to lonely 
wanderings over the Downs ; wanderings that ended always at 
Stonedene ; until, with the instinct of a wounded animal that seeks to 
endure its pain alone, or from the ever present recollection of the 
last words of Adam, when he had said it was by way of Stonedene 
that he would return, she besought the farmer to send away the 
woman in charge of the house and allow her to take her place. 
From the day of her marriage, merrily at first, and as though half 
amused at her rise in life, but later in the hope of giving her such 
comfort as might come from showing his own trust in Adam, Drew 
had been particular in addressing her by her new title. Mattie was 
as much soothed by this behaviour as she was ruffled by the opposite 
conduct of Mrs. Bankes. A certain little dignity of demeanour grew 
upon young Mrs. Armitage, who yet insisted upon earning her own 
bread, since Adam's wife must not be dependent upon the charity of 
even so good a friend as the farmer. 

Drew yielded to the wish of the wife, whose heart was breaking 
with the pain of absence, and the mystery of silence, and Mattie, on 
this foggy day had already lived months at Stonedene, on the watch 
always for the coming of Adam. 

The fog increased instead of diminishing with the approach of 
evening. Drew could not see his own house until he was close to 
it ; as he had remarked, the mystery of Mattie's affairs was not more 
impenetrable than the veil hiding all natural objects just then. 
When he had put up the horse and gone in to tea, Mrs. Bankes, as 
she bustled about, preparing the meal that Mattie's deft little fingers 
had been wont to set out with so much quietness as well as celerity, 
did not fail to greet him with the question : " Well, how is she ? " 

'' She " had come to mean Mattie in the vocabulary of the farmer 
and his sister. 

"About as usual in health," Drew replied, lifting the now five-year- 
old Harry to his knee; '' but troubled in mind ; though, to be sure, 
that is as usual too" 

" She is out cf ner mind," exclaimed Mrs. Bankes irritably. She 
had been fond of Mattie, and not indifferent to the value of so fine 
a subject for gossip as the stolen marriage and the disappearance 
of the bridegroom ; but Mrs. Bankes had long ago wearied of the 



A Rare Case. 315 

state of affairs, and wished for some change in them ; for something 
new to talk about. " Mattie is out of her mind," she repeated. 
" Everyone but yourself knows that ; and if you do not know it, it is 
only because you are as mad as she is — or anyone might think so 
from the way you go on." 

" Nay, nay," said Drew gently, as the butter-dish was set upon the 
table with a vehemence that made the tea-cups rattle. " There are no 
signs of madness about Mattie — unless you call her trust in her 
husband by so hard a name." 

" Husband ! a pretty husband, indeed ! I've no patience with 
him, nor with you either. As if it was not a common tale enough ! 
It would be better to persuade the girl to come home and get to 
work again, than to encourage her in her fancies, while you pay 
another servant here — and times so hard as they are." 

*' Oh, that is just my luck," observed Drew, laughing. 

" Luck ! don't talk to me of ill-luck, when it is, and always has 
been, nothing but the weakmindedness of helping other folks that 
ought to stand alone." Mrs. Bankes did not allude, although she 
might have done so, to how much her brother had helped her. 
*' If you minded only your own concerns you'd be a lucky man 
enough. You are not fool enough to suppose Stonedene will let as 
long as Mattie's there, I hope. Fetch her home, and don't go call- 
ing her * Ma'am,' and making believe to see things as she sees 
them." 

** It is no make-believe on my part. I can't bring myself to think 
ill of a man who showed me so much of his mind as Mr. Armitage 
did. I don't say I can understand, or can even give a guess at what 
has happened, but I do say I am certain it can be explained. To be 
sure, it may be as Mattie fears and he may be dead, and if so, we 
shall never have the explanation. Still, I judge him, as his wife does, 
by what I know him to be at heart — and that is a good man, if ever 
there was one." 

"Stuff!" cried Eliza, fairly losing her temper. " I judge people 
by their actions. What else can one go by ? Handsome is as hand- 
some does, I say." 

" I was thinking to-day," the farmer went on, sofdy passing his 
broad palm over the blond head of the child upon his knee : " I was 
thinking as I came along of how it stands written : * He that loveth 
not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he 
hath not seen ? ' And it may be true also that we cannot properly 
trust in Heaven if we have no trust at all in man — in good men, I 
mean." 

" It is to be hoped you know what you mean, for I don't," snapped 
Eliza, who, not in the habit of bringing Heaven into her own con- 
versation, was uncomfortable when her brother did so. Her Bible 
lay upon the window-ledge, and during the week gathered no more 
dust upon its red cover than the Bibles of most busy people do. 



3i6 A Rare Case, 

When she had that book in her hand and her best bonnet on her 
head on a Sunday afternoon, Eliza Bankes considered herself as 
religious a woman as need be. She had small patience with her 
brother's trick of dragging religion into all the affairs of daily life. 
Mr. Armitage used to do the same, and he certainly had proved 
himself not better, but much worse, than the generality of men. 

" You should bestir yourself," Mrs. Bankes continued. " You 
should do something, instead of sitting down to trust in the good- 
ness of a man whose actions prove him a villain." 

''What can I do?" said the farmer, recapitulating, more for his 
own momentary satisfaction than in answer to his sister, the little he 
had already done, that little being all that appeared to him feasible. 
*' I went to London; Mrs. Armitage was on the eve of a journey ; I 
went a second time, to find her gone and the establishment broken 
up. A proud woman she seemed ; a woman who always held her 
head high, I should say: no wonder my errand displeased her." 

*' Stuck-up, fine madam ! " cried Eliza, reaching down a pile of 
old delft plates from the dresser. " A fine time Mattie would have 
had of it amongst them — not that it makes the case any the better 
for the man who played her false." 

At that instant the shadowy form of some one going round to the 
front door passed the window, against which the fog pressed closely. 
Drew set little Harry on his feet, and rose slowly, listening with in- 
tentness and a surprised look that made his sister ask what ailed him. 

"Rover — the dog does not bark; who — by the mercy of Heaven, 
it is the man himself ! " cried Drew, as the room door opened with 
a suddenness that caused Mrs. Bankes to drop the plates on the brick 
floor. For Adam Armitage stood upon the threshold : Adam, pale 
and worn, a shadow of his former self, but himself unmistakably. 

For an instant a pin might have been heard to fall in the dead 
silence that fell upon the group. Outside, like a thick curtain hung the 
white fog ; within, the lifting of the veil was at hand. Yet it was hardly 
curiosity, certainly not doubt, that might have been read in the eyes 
of the farmer, as, the first shock of surprise over, the two men faced 
each other. Adam had looked round the room as though seeking 
some one, had smiled in his old fashion at Harry, given a half 
curious, half indifferent glance to Eliza Bankes, and then turned to 
the farmer. 

" Drew," he said simply, " where is my wife ? " 

*' Mrs. Armitage is waiting for you at Stonedene, sir ; there was 
some talk of your coming back that way." 

Drew spoke almost as though no more than the two days agreed 
upon had passed since they met last, and Mrs. Bankes stooped to 
gather up the fallen pieces of crockery. 

" Waiting ! " Adam threw up his hands with a passionate gesture ; 
" what can she have thought ? " 

" She has thought you were gone after all upon that voyage, and 



A Rare Case. 3 1 7 

that your letters had miscarried. Sometimes she has thought that 

you were dead, Mr. Armitage, but never " Drew broke off and 

held out his hand : " We knew you could explain what has happened, 
sir," he concluded. 

Adam drew his own hand across his eyes, in the way a man might 
do who has lately been roused from a bad dream and has some 
trouble to collect his thoughts. 

''That has happened," he said, "which, if it had not befallen me 
myself and become a part of my own experience, I should find it 
difficult to believe possible. A strange thing has happened, and yet " — 
here the old smile they remembered so well broke slowly like light 
over his face — " and yet a thing not more strange, as the world goes, 
than that you — I say nothing of Mattie — but that you should have 
trusted me throughout. I detected no mistrust in your voice, no 
doubt in your eyes, not even when they first met mine just now. 
They call mine a rare case, friend ; they might say the same of your 
belief in me. But — Stonedene did you say ? Walk with me there, 
and hear my tale as we go." 

" This evening ; and in this mist ; and you, sir, looking far from 
well," began Eliza Bankes, the colour in her cheeks of course attribut- 
able only to her having stooped over the broken plates. " Mattie has 
waited so long already that one night more will make but little dif- 
ference." 

" One night, one hour more than I can help will make all the 
difference between wilful wrong and a misfortune that has fallen on 
both alike," said Adam. He would not be dissuaded from setting 
out at once, and in another minute the two men were pursuing 
their way through the driving mist, Adam talking as they 
went. 

That which had befallen him had caused huge rejoicings amongst 
certain of his friends : men whose names stood high in the medical 
world of science, and who were grateful to him beyond measure for 
affording them so fine an opportunity of studying a rare case. After 
parting from Mattie, he had taken train to London, where arriving 
in due course, he drove in a cab towards his mother's house in 
Grosvenor Street, within a few yards of which his cab overturned 
and Adam was thrown out, falling heavily upon his head. They 
said his skull was fractured. After a long interval, however, he opened 
his eyes and recovered consciousness ; and, as he did so, slowly at 
first, after a time more fully, the astounding discovery was made that 
memory was entirely gone. It took not days, but weeks to make 
sure of this. The symptom was attributed to brain fever, to the 
effects of the shock ; to one thing, then to another ; but as time went 
on and the mind struggled in vain to remember, just as the body 
might vainly have tried to use a crushed or paralysed limb, the doc- 
tors all arrived at the same conclusion. Some portion of the injured 
skull, pressing upon the brain, had paralysed the nerve of memory. 



3i8 A Rare Cose, 

The one or two other authentic cases of a like condition were eagerly 
cited, and a babble of learned talk arose over poor Adam, who could 
not tell whence he came or whither he had been going when the 
accident happened. To be sure, he re-learnt by degrees from others, 
his mother especially, the past which was mysteriously blotted out 
from his own experience ; but that which no one but himself had 
known, no one could now recall to him. His Sussex walking tour, 
the lonely farm upon the Downs, Mattie, his marriage and brief 
honeymoon were to his paralysed mind as though they had never 
been, but for a sense of irreparable loss that seemed to weigh upon 
him and made the misery of his life. 

However, this state was one from which, so said his friends, science 
could at will recall him, and the operation necessary to restore Adam 
to himself was deferred only until his health admitted of its being 
attended by a minimum of risk. 

It was while Adam was in the state above described that Drew had 
seen Mrs. Armitage. A proud woman, often as she had wished that 
her son would settle in life, she was ill pleased to hear he had mar- 
ried a farm servant : for that was the one fact that, stripped of Drew's 
panegyrics upon Mattie's superior education and refined manners, 
alone stared her in the face. 

Hastily resolving that there was no need to embitter her own life 
by any attempt to recall to her son this ill-fated marriage, and that 
therefore the experiment of allowing him to see the farmer or to hear 
Mattie's name should not be made, she did not hesitate to deceive 
her unwelcome visitor. Change of scene had been ordered for the 
patient, and before Drew called at the house in Grosvenor Street for 
the second time, Adam and his mother were gone. It was in Paris, 
months after, that the operation was finally and successfully performed, 
and then, the first word of Adam, was Mattie's name. The first 
effort of his newly recovered powers was to relate to his mother the 
history of his marriage and to write to his wife. 

" God grant the suspense has neither killed her nor driven her 
mad ! " he exclaimed. 

It was to his mother's hand the letter was confided, and with that 
exclamation of his ringing in her ears, Mrs. Armitage stood beside 
the brazier filled with charcoal and burning in the ante-room of their 
apartment in the Champs Elysees. She was not a bad woman, but 
the temptation was too strong to allow this affair to unravel itself, and 
see what would turn up. If the girl were dead, why no harm had 
been done, and this terrible mistake of her son's was rectified at 
once. If the other alternative were to prove true and Mattie had lost 
her senses, Adam would be equally free from her, or measures could 
be taken to ensure so desirable a result. Mrs. Armitage tore the 
letter into pieces and waited by the brazier until the fragments were 
charred. Adam asked no awkward questions, and was not even sur- 
prised at receiving no answer to his epistle, since in it he had an- 



A Rare Case. 319 

nounced his coming. The first day his health admitted of it, he set 
out alone for England. 

Such was the story ; one that Adam himself knew only in part, 
being ignorant of his mother's share in it. When Drew had told of 
his efforts to seek Adam, and had mentioned that no letter had 
reached Mattie, Adam was at no loss to understand at once the part 
his mother had played. But he never spoke of it, then or at any 
future time. 

The house door at Stonedene stood ajar ; evening had closed in 
now, and the chilly fog was still abroad, but the figure at the gate was 
dimly discernible. 

Adam hastened his steps. 

" For heaven's sake, sir, be careful ! the suddenness of it might 
turn her brain," cried Drew, laying a detaining hand upon the arm 
of his companion. 

Adam gently shook him off. 

" Suddenness," he repeated. " Aye, it is sudden to you — and to 
Mrs. Bankes. I was sorry, by the way, that the delft plates were 
broken — but for me and for Mattie whose thoughts are day and 
night, night and day full of each other, how can it be sudden ? " 

Drew stood still, and Adam went on alone, until his footsteps 
became audible and Mattie turned her head to see him standing at 
her side. 

Adam had been right ; no fear was there for Mattie's brain. All 
excitement, all surprise and wonder came afterwards ; at that first 
supreme moment, and with a satisfied sigh, as of a child who has 
got all it wants, Mattie held out her arms to him, with one word — 

"Husband!" 

As Adam drew her to him it was not only the mist, or the darken- 
ing evening that blinded Drew so that for a moment or two he 
saw neither of them. 

People say Drew's luck has turned from the day Stonedene found 
a tenant. It is newly done up and prettily furnished now ; Mr. and 
Mrs. Armitage come down there once or twice a year, with their 
children, for a breath of sea air and to visit old friends. 



--»-6f^b«ir^^f^^U*^'T^ 



320 



LOOKING BACK. 

Are the sun-ripe apples gathered ? 

Do the violets scent the bed ? 
The almond-breathing clematis 

Full clustered overhead ? 
Is the autumn air as balmy, 

And the evening sky as red ? 

Are ruddy leaves yet falling 

On the dew-ensilvered lawn ? 
Do butterflies still flicker 

When the vapours are withdrawn 
Over blossoms flush'd or fading, 

Fire-tinted as the dawn ? 

Is light and shadow dreaming 

In the sheltered laurel glade ? 
In the wilderness I planted 

Do the birds sing undismayed — 
The old birds, and the nestlings 

That were hatched beneath its shade ? 

The shapes of breezy whiteness 

That gamboU'd at my feet. 
With eager eyes, and loving cries, 

And life at fever-heat — 
They are resting in the twilight 

Of that ever-green retreat. 

O sweet it was to loiter 

With one no longer Here ; 
The sunny stillness shaken 

By carols loud and clear : ' 
Our pleasant talk suspended 

For joys of eye and ear. 

To greet the budding spring-time 

And watch the year's decay, 
And make my heart the counterpart 

Of Nature's ebb and play. 
That weeps and grieves, and sheds her leaves, 

To smile again in May. 

C. M. Gemmer. 



THE ARGOSY. 

MAY, 1880. 



THE MYSTERIES OF HERON DYKE. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

WINTER AT HERON DYKE. 

THE mellow autumn months darkened and died slowly into 
winter. The wild winds that are born in the bitter north 
blew in stronger and fiercer gusts, and the majestic monotone of the 
sea grew louder and more triumphant as the huge tides broke in 
white-lipped wrath against the shuddering sands. There came tidings 
of fishing-boats that never found their way back home, of great 
ships in the offing that made signals of distress, of dead bodies 
washed up here and there along the shore. The Easterby lifeboat 
was ever ready to brave the fiercest seas ; while miles away across the 
seething waters, at once a signal of warning and of hope, the ruddy 
beacon of Easterby lighthouse shone clear and steady through the 
darkest night : it was like the eye of Faith shining across the troubled 
waters of Life. 

At Heron Dyke, to all outward seeming, the winter months brought 
little or no change in the monotony of life within its four grey walls. 
And yet there were some changes ; all of which, unimportant as they 
might seem if taken singly, had a distinct bearing on events to come. 
The two housemaids, Martha and Ann, to whom Aaron Stone had 
given warning in his anger at what he called their folly, were not 
forgiven. They left the Hall at the expiration of the month's notice, 
giving place to two strong young women who came all the way from 
London ; and who, never having been in the country before, were 
supposed to be superior to the ordinary run of superstitious fancies 
which so powerfully affect the rural mind. Aaron took care that 
Martha and Ann should be clear of the house before Phemie and 

VOL. XXIX. Y 



322 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

Eliza arrived at it : there should be no collusion with the new comers 
if he could prevent it. 

All went well at first. Phemie and Eliza felt dull, but were suffi- 
ciently comfortable. They had plenty to eat, and little to do. Not 
having been told that the Hall was supposed to be haunted, to them 
the north wing was the same as any other part of the house, and 
they neither saw nor heard anything to frighten them. The deaf and 
stolid cook kept herself, as usual, to herself, and said nothing. Indeed, 
it may be concluded that she had nothing to say. Had a whole army 
of apparitions placed themselves in a row before her at the "witching 
hour o' night," it would not have affected her ; she utterly despised 
them, and the belief that could put faith in them. 

Old Aaron chuckled at the success of his new arrangements. " We 
shall be bothered with no more cock-and-bull stories about grisly 
ghosts now," thought he. 

But, though the new maids were safe enough from hearing gossip 
inside the house, they were not out of it. Aaron, however good his 
will might be, could not keep them within for ever : they must go to 
church, they must go to the village ; they claimed, although strangers 
in the place, a half-holiday now and then. And the first half-holiday 
that Phemie had, something came of it. 

The girl made the best of her way to Nullington. Small though 
the town was, it had its shops ; and shops have a wonderful fascina- 
tion for the female heart. Into one and into another went Phemie, 
making acquaintance with this vendor of wares and with that. 
Mysterious things were talked of ; and when she got back to the Hall 
at night, she had a rare budget of strange news to tell Eliza. 

The Hall was haunted. At least, the north wing of it was. A 
young woman, Miss Winter's maid, had mysteriously disappeared in 
it one night last winter, and had never been heard of since. The 
two previous housemaids had been nearly terrified out of their wits 
afterwards. They had heard doors clash after dark that were never 
shut by mortal hands ; they had heard a voice that sobbed and 
sighed along the passages at midnight ; and they had been once 
awakened by a strange tapping at their bed-room door, as if someone 
were seeking to come in. More dreadful than all, they had seen the 
deathlike face of the missing girl staring down at them over the 
balusters of the gallery in the great entrance-hall : and it was for 
being frightened at this, for speaking of it, they were turned away ! 
— which was shamefully unjust. All this disquieting news, with the 
observations made on it, had Mistress Phemie contrived to pick 
up in the course of one afternoon's shopping, and to bring home to 
Eliza. 

The two servants had now plenty to talk about in the privacy of 
their own room ; and talk they did : but they were wise enough at 
present to keep their own counsel, and to wait with a sort of dread 
expectancy for what time might bring forth. Would they hear 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 323 

strange sobbings and sighings in the night ? would a ghostly face 
stare suddenly out upon them from behind some dark corner 
when they least expected it ? The dull depths of these girls' minds 
were stirred as they had never been stirred before. They half 
hoped and wholly dreaded the happening of something — they knew 
not what. 

Meanwhile they began to go timorously about the house, to shun 
the north wing most carefully after dark, and to keep together after 
candles were lighted. Old i\aron, silently watching, was not slow 
to mark these signs and tokens, though he took no outward notice. 
While his wife Dorothy, watching also in her superstitious fear, drew 
in her mind the conclusion that the girls were being disturbed as 
the other two girls had been. 

It fell out one afternoon, about three weeks after Phemie had 
brought her strange tidings from Nullington, that Eliza was sent to 
the town on an errand by her mistress, Mrs. Stone : for, to all intents 
and purposes, Dorothy Stone acted as the women-servants' mistress, 
whether Miss Winter might be in the house, or whether she was 
out of it. Eliza was later in starting than she ought to have 
been, and she was longer doing her errands — for she took the 
opportunity to make purchases on her own account — and it was 
dusk before she turned back to Heron Dyke. It was a pleasant 
evening, cold but dry, with the stars coming out one after another, 
as she went quickly along the quiet country road, thinking of her 
mother and sisters far away. She turned into the park by the 
lodge on the Easterby road, stopping for a couple of minutes' 
gossip with Mrs. Tilney, the gardener's wife. How pleasant and 
homelike the little lodge looked, Eliza thought, full of ruddy fire- 
light ; for Hannah Tilney would not light the lamp till her husband 
should arrive. The elder girl was making toast for her father's 
tea, the younger one was hushing her doll to sleep, while Mrs. Tilney 
herself was setting out the tea-cups, and the kettle was singing on the 
hob — all awaiting the return of the good husband and father. 

Bidding the lodge good-night, Eliza went on her way. It was quite 
dark by this time, and although the hour was early she did not much 
like her lonely walk through the park. She was not used to the 
country, and the solitude frightened her a little; fancy whispering that a 
tramp might be lurking behind every tree. She pictured to herself the 
lights and bustle of London streets, and was sorry she had left them. 
Leaving the carriage-drive to the right when she got within two or 
three hundred yards of the Hall, she turned into a shrubbery that 
led to the servants' entrance. It did seem very lonely here, and she 
hurried on, glancing timidly from right to left, her heart beating 
a little faster than ordinary. 

Suddenly a low scream burst from her lips. A dark, figure, 
emerging from behind a clump of evergreens, stood full in her path, 
and placed its hand on her arm. Eliza stood still \ she had no 



324 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

other choice ; and trembled as she had never trembled before. It 
was a woman : she could see that much now. 

"Won't you please let me speak with you ?" cried a gentle voice, 
which somehow served to reassure Eliza. 

"My patience !" cried she, anger bubbling up in the reaction of 
feeling, " how came you to frighten me like that ? I was thinking of 
— of — all kinds of startling things. What do you want ? " 

" You are one of the new maids at the Hall," rejoined the figure, 
in low, beseeching accents, " and I have been trying for weeks to get 
to speak to you." 

" Who are you? — and what do you want with me?" demanded Eliza. 

" I am Susan Keen." 

" Susan Keen," repeated the servant, not remembering at the 
moment why the name should seem familiar to her. *' Well, I don't 
know you, if you are." 

" My sister lived at the Hall, Miss Winter's maid, and she dis- 
appeared in her bed-room one night last winter," went on poor Susan, 
with a kind of sob. " It was full of mystery. Even Mr. Kettle says 
that." 

"Oh yes, to be sure," cordially replied Eliza, her sympathies 
aroused now. " Poor Katherine Keen ! Yes. What did become of 
her ? " 

Susan shook her head. It was a question no one could answer. 
" I want you to help me find out," she whispered. 

The avowal struck Eliza with a sort of alarm. " Good gracious ! " 
she cried. 

" I want you to help me find some traces of her — my poor lost 
sister," continued Susan, " some clue to the mystery of her fate " 

"But what could /do, even if I were willing?" interrupted the 
housemaid. 

" You are inside the house, I am outside," replied Susan, with a 
sob. " Your chances are greater than mine. Oh, won't you help 
me ? At any moment, when least expected, some link might show 
itself; the merest accident, as mother says, might put us on the right 
track. Have you no pity for her ? " 

" I've a great deal of pity for her ; I never heard so strange and 
pitiful a tale in all my life," was the reply. "Phemie was told all 
about it when she went into Nullington. But, you know, she may 
not be dead." 

" She is dead," shivered Susan. " Oh, believe that. I am as sure 
of it as that we two are standing here. At first I didn't believe she 
was dead ; I couldn't ; but now that the months have gone on, and 
on, I feel that there's no hope. If she were alive she would not fail 
to let us know it to ease our sorrow — all this while ! Katherine was 
more loving and thoughtful than you can tell." 

" It's said she had no sweetheart : or else " Eliza was begin- 
ning. But the other went on, never hearing. 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 325 

*' If she were not dead, she would not come to me so often in my 
dreams — and she's always dead in them. And, look here," added 
the girl in awed tones, drawing a step nearer and gently pressing 
again Eliza's arm : " I wish someone could tell me why her hair is 
always wet when she appears. I can see water dripping from the 
ends of it." 

Eliza shuddered, and glanced involuntarily around. 
"Sometimes she calls me as if from a distance, and then I awake," 
resumed Susan. " She wants me to find her — I know that ; but I 
never can, though I am looking for her continually." 

"This poor thing must be crazed," thought the bewildered woman- 
servant. 

" And I've fancied that you might help me. I've come about 
here at night, wanting to see you, and ask you, for ever so long. 
You can watch, and look, and listen when you are going about your 
work in the house, and perhaps you will come upon her, or some 
trace of her." 

" Good mercy ! You surely can't think she is in the house ! " 
exclaimed Eliza. 

" I am sure she's in it." 
" What— dead ? " 

" She must be dead. She can't be alive — all these weary weeks 
and months." 

" I never heard of such a belief," cried Eliza. " What it is that's 
thought — leastways, as it has been told to me and my fellow- servant, 
Phemie — is, that it is her spirit that is in the house, and haunts it." 

" Her spirit does haunt it," affirmed poor Susan. " But she is 
there too." 

Eliza felt as if a rush of cold air were passing over her. 
"Something wrong was done to her; she was killed in some way ; 
and I'd sooner think it was by a woman than a man," went on Susan 
dreamily. " It all happened in the north wing. And then they 
carried her away for concealment to one of the dark unused rooms 
in it, and left her there, shut up — perhaps for ever. That's how it 
must have been." 

" Dear me !" gasped Eliza, hardly knowing, in her dismay, whether 
this was theory or fact. 

" And so if you could watch, and come upon any clue, and would 
kindly bring it to us, me and mother, we'd be ever grateful. Perhaps 
you know our inn — the Leaning Gate — as you go from here to Null- 
ington." 

" Stay a moment," said Eliza, a thought striking her : " does your 
mother think all this that you've been telling me ? — does she want 
me to watch ? " 

" Mother does not know I've come to you, or that I've ever had 
thought of coming, else she might have stopped me," answered the 
girl candidly, for poor Susan Keen was truth itself. " But she knows 



326 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

Katherine must be in the house, dead or alive; she says that. Good- 
evening, and thank you, and I'm sorry I startled you." 

She walked away at a swift pace. Eliza looked after her for a 
moment, and then ran home shivering, not daring to glance to the 
right or to the left. 

When the last fine days of autumn were over and the cold weather 
was fairly set in, Squire Denison had ceased to drive out in his 
brougham, and was seen no more beyond the suite of rooms that 
were set apart for his personal use. Early in November his lawyer, 
Mr. Daventry, was sent for, and received certain final instructions 
respecting his will. 

About the same time a fresh inmate came to Heron Dyke and 
took up her abode there for the time being. The person in question 
was a certain IMrs. Dexter, a professional nurse, who had been sent 
for from London by Dr. Jago's express desire. She was a plain- 
looking middle-aged woman, whose manners and address were superior 
to her station in life. A woman of few words, she seldom spoke 
except when someone put a question to her. She went quietly and 
deftly about her duties and employed all her spare time in reading. 
A sitting-room was allotted her next Mr. Denison's, and she never 
mixed with the servants. No one at the Hall, unless it was Hubert 
Stone, knew that Mrs. Dexter was an elder sister of Dr. Jago's wife. 
It might be that the treatment pursued by that undoubtedly clever 
practitioner, and which at present seemed to succeed, was of too 
hazardous a nature to be entrusted to, or witnessed by, an ordinary 
nurse. 

Then came another movement. Within a few days of Mrs. Dexter's 
arrival at the Hall, the carpenter, Shalders, was sent for from Nulling- 
ton. Receiving his orders, he proceeded to put up two doors covered 
with green baize, one in each of the corridors leading to ]\Ir. Denison's 
rooms. The household wondered much; the neighbourhood talked; 
for Shalders had a tongue, and did not keep the measure a secret. 
It was to ensure himself more quiet that the Squire had had it done, 
said Shalders. Day and night these doors were kept locked. Four 
people only, each of whom had a pass-key, were allowed to penetrate 
beyond them : Dr. Jago, Mrs. Dexter, Aaron Stone, and Hubert. 
Anything that took place on the other side of those mysterious doors 
was as little known to the rest of the inmates of the Hall as if they 
had been a hundred miles away. In Nullington, people could 
not cease wondering about these baize-covered doors, and were gene- 
rally of opinion that Squire Denison was growing more crazy than 
ever. 

Ella never failed to write to her uncle once a week, and once a 
week the Squire dictated to Hubert a few lines of reply. In these 
notes he always told her his health was improving ; that he grew 
better and stronger. For weeks after he had ceased to leave his own 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 327 

rooms, he wrote to Ella — in his unselfishness, let us suppose — about 
his drives out and how the fresh crisp winter air seemed to give him 
strength. Ella expressed a strong desire to be back at home by 
New Year's Day; but the Squire's answer to her request, while kind, 
was yet so peremptory in tone that she was afraid to mention the 
subject again. He told her she was not to make herself uneasy about 
him, and that, now she was abroad, she had better enjoy herself and 
see everything that was worth seeing : when he wanted her back at 
the Hall he would not fail to send for her, but till that time she had 
better continue on her travels. If the body of the letter seemed hard 
to Ella, there was no lack of loving messages at its end. "You are 
always in my thoughts," he wrote. "I see your face in the firelight; 
I hear the rustle of your dress behind my chair; half-a dozen times a 
day I could affirm that I heard you singing in the next room. When 
you come back to me in spring, my darling, I will never let you go 
away again." 

To Ella his letters would read almost like a contradiction. He 
could write thus, evidently pining for her, and yet would not allow 
her to return. She comforted herself with the reassurance that he 
must be better. Not the faintest hint was given to her in any one of 
the letters that Mrs. Dexter, a sick nurse, had taken up her abode 
at Heron Dyke. 

Hubert Stone received several private notes from Ella, asking for 
full and special information respecting the state of her uncle's health. 
The writer of them little thought how they were treasured up and 
covered with kisses. To each of them Hubert wrote a few guarded 
lines of reply, confirming the general tenour of Mr. Denison's own 
letters. Miss Winter, he said, had no cause for uneasiness : Mr. 
Denison was certainly stronger than he had been for two years past. 
A iQ.yN old friends of the Squire called at the Hall occasionally and 
enquired respecting his health. Now and again he would see one or 
other of them for a few minutes and talk away as if nothing were the 
matter with him. 

But after the middle of December no visitors of any kind were 
admitted. They were told that the Squire was much as usual, but 
that his medical man. Dr. Jago, enjoined perfect rest as indispensable 
to him. When Dr. Spreckley heard this, he differed completely. 
*' I always told Mr. Denison that he ought to see more company than 
he did," said Spreckley. " He wanted rousing more out of himself. 
The sight of a fresh face and a little lively conversation never failed 
to do him good." 

It was a marvel to Dr. Spreckley that the Squire still lived. He 
wondered much what treatment was being pursued, not believing 
that any treatment known to him could keep him in life ; he mar- 
velled at other things. 

*' Hang it all ! " cried the Doctor one day to himself " I can't 
see daylight in it. Shut up in his rooms from people's sight ; green- 



3 23 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

baize doors put up to keep out the household ! — what does it mean ? 
Are they treating him to a course of slow poisons ? Upon my word, 
if it were not that the object is to keep the Squire in life, I should 
think there was a conspiracy to send him out of it, and that they 
don't want to be watched at their work. But it is a strange thing 
that he yet lives." 

That was, to Dr. Spreckley, the strangest thing of all. Morning 
after morning, as it arose, did he expect to hear the news of the 
Squire's death \ but winter wore on, and the old year died out, and 
still the tidings came not. Dr. Spreckley marvelled more and more \ 
but he said nothing to anybody. 

CHAPTER XIV. 

DR. DOWNES' SNUFF-BOX. 

That winter in Norfolk was an exceptionally severe one. Lady 
Cleeve, whose health had been waning for some time past, felt the 
cold more severely than she had ever done before, and was rarely 
out of her own home. Trusting her son so thoroughly, the twelve 
hundred pounds had now been transferred to him, as promised, and 
stood in his name in the books of NuUington Bank. And to Philip 
life seemed to have become well worth living. The fact that he 
could draw cheques now on his own account — ay, and find them 
duly honoured — was a new and delightful item in his experience. 
His sunny, debonair face might be seen everywhere with a smile 
upon it : he had a kind look for this neighbour, meeting him in the 
street : a pleasant word for that one. He carried fascination with 
him ; and, whatever might be his faults, it was impossible to help 
liking Philip Cleeve. 

*' A thousand pounds will be quite enough for Tiplady," he de- 
cided, after some mental debate, carried on at intervals. " If the 
old fellow lets me join him at all, he'll take me for that : money's 
nothing to him." 

This, you perceive, would leave Mr. Philip two hundred pounds 
to play with : a very desirable acquisition. But the partnership ques- 
tion remained as yet in abeyance. Mr. Tiplady was very much 
engaged with some troublesome private affairs of his own at this 
period, was often from home ; and for the time being seemed to have 
forgotten his talk with Lady Cleeve about the partnership. 

Philip was particularly careful not to refresh his memory. His mother 
felt anxious now and then that no progress was being made : she 
spoke to Philip about it, only to have her fears pooh-poohed, and be 
put off in that young gentleman's laughing, easy-going style. " A 
month or two more or less cannot make any possible difference, 
mother," he said one day. " Besides, I don't think it would be wise 
to bother Tiplady just now. It will be time enough to speak when 
he has got through his law-suit with Jarvis." 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 329 

It did not take Philip Cleeve very long to make a considerable hole 
in the two hundred pounds : set aside in his own mind as a margin to 
be used for whatever contingencies might arise. In the first place, his 
I O U to Freddy Bootle for his losses at cards in October had to be 
redeemed, Freddy having lent him the money to square up : although 
it might have stood over for an indefinite period as far as Freddy was 
concerned. This of itself ran away with a considerable sum. Then 
Philip discovered that he had been in the habit of dressing less well 
than was desirable, and so replenished his wardrobe throughout. After 
that, chancing to be one day at the jeweller's, he took a fancy to a 
gold hunting-watch and a couple of expensive rings. The latter 
articles he would draw off and slip into his pocket when going into 
his mother's presence ; while of the existence of the watch she knew 
nothing. Not for a great deal would he have had Lady Cleeve 
suspect that he had touched a penny of the twelve hundred pounds. 
Yes, he had faults, this Master Philip. 

For some little time past, he had taken to be more from home 
than usual, in the evening, and to return to it later. Lady Cleeve 
did not grumble ; she but thought he was at the Vicarage, or at the 
house of some other friend. He was more often at The Lilacs than 
she was at all aware of. Not that she would have objected : she 
rather liked Captain Lennox ; and she knew nothing of the high 
play carried on there, or of the unearthly hours that it sometimes 
pleased Mr. Philip to come in. 

It was not the play, though, that made Philip's chief attraction at The 
Lilacs. It was Mrs. Ducie. His pleasantest evenings were those 
when cards were not brought out, when the time was filled with con- 
versation and music. On such occasions Philip left at the sober hour 
of eleven o'clock, and had nothing to reproach himself with next 
morning ; unless it were, perhaps, that when in the fascinating com- 
pany of Mrs. Ducie, he almost forgot the existence of Maria Kettle. 

Yet it was impossible to say that Margaret Ducie gave him any 
special encouragement, or led him on in any way. She was probably 
aware of his admiration for her, but there was nothing that savoured 
of the coquette in her mode of treating him. She was gracious and 
easy and pleasant, and that was all that could be said : and she drew 
an impalpable line between them which Philip felt that it would not 
be wise on his part to attempt to overpass. Meanwhile life was ren- 
dered none the less pleasant, in that he could now and then pass a 
few sunny hours in her society. 

Early in December, Mrs. Ducie went up to London to stay with 
some friends, purposing to be away a month or two ; and after her 
departure Philip did not find himself at The Lilacs so often. One 
day, however, he chanced to meet Captain Lennox in the street, who 
gave him a cordial invitation for the evening, to meet some other 
fellows who were coming. 

"I expect Camberley and Lawlor and Furness," said Captain 



330 Tlie Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

Lennox. "You don't know Furness, I think? INIarried a wife with 
four thousand a-year, lucky dog ! Come up in time for dinner." 

Of course Philip accepted. Indeed, it was a rare thing for him to 
decline an invitation of any kind. Company pleased him, gaiety 
made his heart glad. 

Play, that evening, began early and finished late. The stakes were 
higher than usual ; the champagne was plentiful. The clock struck 
five as Philip stood at his own door, fambling for his latch-key. He 
had one of his splitting headaches, and his pockets were lighter by 
seventy pounds than they had been eight hours previously. Seventy 
pounds ! 

All that day he lay in bed ill and was waited upon by his mother, 
who had no suspicion as to the real state of affairs, or that he had 
been abroad late. Her own poor health obliging her to retire early, 
rarely later than ten, she supposed Philip came in at eleven, or 
thereabouts. His headache went off towards dusk, but the feeling 
of utter wretchedness that possessed him did not go off. He was 
a prey to self-remorse, not perhaps for the first time in his life, but it 
had never stung him so bitterly as now. In the evening, when he 
had dressed himself, he unlocked his desk and took out his bank- 
book. He had not looked at it lately. After deducting, from 
the balance shown there, the amount lost by him at cards the pre- 
vious evening, together with two or three other cheques which he 
had lately paid away, he found that there now remained to his credit 
at the bank the sum of nine hundred and thirty-five pounds. In 
something less than three months, he had contrived to get through 
two hundred and sixty-five pounds of his mother's gift — of the gift 
which had cost her long years of patient pinching and hoarding to 
scrape together. At the same rate, how long would it take him to 
squander the whole of it ? As he asked himself this question he shut 
up his bank-book with a groan and felt the hot tears of shame and 
mortification rush into his eyes. 

He was still sitting thus when a letter was brought him. It proved 
to be a note of invitation from Maria Kettle, written in the Vicar's 
name, asking Philip to dinner on the 12th of January, her father's 
birthday. A similar note had come for Lady Cleeve. The Vicar 
always kept his birthday as a little festival, at which a dozen or more 
of his oldest friends were welcome. The sight of Maria's writing 
touched and affected Philip as it might not have done at another 
time. His heart to-night was full of vague longings and vain regrets, 
and perhaps equally vain resolves. He would give up going to The 
Lilacs, he would never touch a card again, he would cease to seek 
the society of Margaret Ducie — and, he would ask Maria to promise 
to be his wife. At this very Vicarage dinner, opportunity being 
afforded, he would ask her. 

He was very quiet and subdued in manner during the next few 
days, spending all his leisure time at home. Some two years 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 331 

previously he had taken a fancy to teach himself German, but had 
grown tired of it in a couple of months, as he had grown tired of so 
many other hobbies in his time. He now hunted out his books 
again and began to brush up his half-forgotten knowledge. His 
mother was delighted at the new industry : it gave her so much more 
of him at home. 

The evening of the twelfth arrived, and Lady Cleeve and Philip 
drove over to the Vicarage in a fly. The brougham of fat, good- 
natured Dr. Downes was just turning from the door after setting 
down its master. Lady Cleeve went into a room to take off her 
warm coverings, and Philip waited for her in the little hall. 

" What, you here ! " he exclaimed, as Captain Lennox entered. 

"Ay. Why not?" 

" I should have fancied this house would be too quiet for you," 
returned Philip. " There will be no Camberley — no high play here." 

Captain Lennox stroked his fair moustache and looked at Philip 
with an amused smile. '' My good sir, do you suppose I must live 
ever in a racket ? Mr. Kettle was good enough to invite me, and I 
had pleasure in accepting. As to Camberley — his play goes a little 
further at times than I care for." 

A pretty flush mounted to Maria's cheek as she met Philip ; his 
laughing hazel eyes seemed to have a meaning in them, the pressure 
of his hand was more emphatic than usual. They had not seen 
much of each other lately. No direct words of love had yet passed 
between them, but there lay a sort of tacit understanding on 
both sides that one day they would in all probability become man 
and wife ; needing no assurance in set phrases that they would be true 
to each other and wait till circumstances should be propitious. Of 
late, however, Philip's visits to the Vicarage had been few and far 
between. Rumours had reached Maria of evenings spent in the 
billiard-room of the Rose and Crown, and of his frequent presence at 
The Lilacs. When Maria thought of Margaret Ducie's attractions, 
her heart grew sad. 

The dinner guests numbered a dozen — all pleasant people. One 
or two handsome girls were there, but Philip had eyes for Maria only. 

" How nice she looks !" he thought; "how pure, how candid ! 
What is it that constitutes her nameless charm ? It cannot be her 
beauty." 

No, for Maria had not very much of that. It was the goodness 
that shone from every line of her countenance. 

Dinner over, the Vicar and a few of his guests retired to his study 
for a sober hand at whist, leaving the drawing-room free for music 
and conversation : and the evening passed on. Ten o'clock struck, 
and Philip's momentous words to Maria were still unspoken. At 
last the watched-for opportunity came. In her search for some 
particular piece of music, Maria went downstairs to what she still 
called her school-room, and Philip followed. A single jet of gas was 



332 The Mysteries of Hei'on Dyke. 

lighted, and she was stooping over an old canterbury when he put 
his arm round her waist. She had not heard his footsteps, and rose 
up startled. 

" Oh, Philip ! " she cried, and sought to push his hand away. 

" Do not repulse me, Maria," he whispered, a strange earnestness 
in his generally laughing eyes. " I am here to tell you how truly and 
tenderly I love you. I am here to ask you to be my wife." 

" Oh, Philip ! " was all that poor Maria could reiterate in that first 
moment of surprise. 

" You must have known all along that I loved you, and I ought 
perhaps to have spoken before," he continued. "But I cannot be 
silent longer. Tell me, my dearest, that you will be mine — my own 
sweet wife for ever ! " 

Maria's face was covered with blushes. Her eyes met Philip's in 
one brief loving glance, but no word did she speak. He drew 
her to him and kissed her tenderly twice. His arms were round her, 
her head rested on his shoulder, when there came a sound of 
footsteps outside the door. An instant later, Philip was alone. How 
brief a time had sufficed to seal the fate of two persons for weal 
or woe ! 

Philip felt intensely happy now that the ordeal was over — although 
he had never anticipated a refusal from Maria. No more gambling, 
no more heating visits to The Lilacs, or evenings in the billiard- 
room ; life would be full of other and sweeter interests now. His 
mother would rejoice in his good fortune, and all would be couleur de 
rose in time to come. 

'Twas a pity that an unwelcome thought should intrude to mar the 
brightness. Somehow Philip began to think of the money he had 
drawn from the bank. 

" What a fool I was to break into the thousand pounds ! " he 
exclaimed, his mood changing to bitterness. '' I might have confined 
it to the extra two hundred. That would not have so much mattered, 
while the thousand was enough for Tiplady. But to have lessened 
that by — how much is it — sixty or seventy pounds. If I could but 
replace it ! If we had but gold-fields over here as they have yonder," 
nodding his head in some vague direction, "where a man may dig 
up to-day what will last him to-morrow. No such luck for me. / 
can't pick any up." 

A bustle in the hall — and Philip went from the room. Lady 
Cleeve was passing out to her fly, which waited for her, escorted to 
it by good Dr. Downes. She had already stayed beyond her time : 
Philip would walk home later. He helped to place his mother in it, 
wished her good-night, and returned to the rooms with the old 
Doctor. 

At eleven o'clock the party broke up : late hours were not in 
fashion at the Vicarage. As Philip wished Maria good-night, he 
whispered that he should be with her on the morrow : and the warm 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 333 

pressure of his hand and the love-light that sat in his eyes told 
Maria more than any words could tell. 

Dr. Downes was fumbling with the sleeves and buttons of his 
overcoat in the hall : his own man generally did these things for 
him. "Let me help you, Doctor," said Philip: and buttoned it 
deftly. 

"Thank you, lad," returned the Doctor. "Would you like a lift 
as far as I go ? " 

Philip thought he would, and got into the roomy old brougham, 
and chatted soberly with the old physician on the way. He got out 
of it when they came to the side turning that led to the Doctor's 
house, said good-night, and strode onwards. 

Dr. Downes took snuff. A bad habit, perhaps, and one less 
general now than in the years gone by. He took it out of a gold box, 
one of great value, presented to him by a grateful patient, Lord 
Lytham : and this box, being rather proud of it, the old Doctor was 
fond of exhibiting in company. The first thing he did, arrived at 
his own fireside, his coat and comforter off, was to put his hand in 
his pocket for his snuff-box. 
It was not there. 

Had the Doctor found himself not to be there, he could hardly 
have felt more surprise. That he had not dropped it in the carriage, 
he knew, for he had never at all unbuttoned his overcoat : still he 
sent out and had it searched ; and made assurance doubly sure. 
"Well, this is a strange thing !" ejaculated the Doctor. 

"When did you have it last, sir?" asked Granby, his faithful 
servant of many years. 

"A few minutes before I left the Vicarage," said Dr. Downes, 
after pausing to think. " The Vicar took a pinch with me ; we were 
standing before the fire ; and I distinctly recollect putting it back 
into my pocket. After that, I shook hands with one or two people, 
and came away." 

"Suppose I send Mark to the Vicarage, sir?" suggested Granby. 
" He'd run there in no time : they'll not be gone to bed." 

" It is sure not to be there," said the Doctor testily, as Granby 
came back from dispatching the boy. " How could it leave my 
pocket after I had put it safe in it ? " 

" Perhaps it did, sir — when you were getting on your coat to come 
away. Who knows ? You are not clever at putting on that coat, 
sir — if you'll forgive my saying so — and turn and twist about like 
anything over it." 

" Young Cleeve helped me. And the coat's tight and awkward. 
I suppose — I suppose," added Dr. Downes slowly and thoughtfully, 
" that Cleeve did not take the snuff-box to play me a trick ? " 

" Well, sir, I should not think he would play such a trick on you, 
though he is a gay and careless young spark." 
" Oh, you think him so, do you, Granby ? " 



334 '^^^ Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

" Fm sure he is, sir," amended Granby. " He's more than that, 
too — a regular young spendthrift : and it's a pity to have to say it 
of Lady Cleeve's son. Half his time he is at the Rose and Crown 
playing billiards ; and the t'other half he is playing cards for high 
stakes at Captain Lennox's, with my Lord Camberley, and other 
rich folk." 

" Why, Granby, how the deuce do you know all this ? " 

" Why, sir, all the town knows it. Leastways about the time he 
spends in the billiard-room. And Captain Lennox's man happens 
to be an old acquaintance of mine, so we often have a chat together. 
It's James Knight, sir, who once lived with Sir Gunton Cleeve, and 
perhaps you may remember him." 

" But — billiards, and cards, and high stakes — how does young 
Cleeve find the money for it all ? " debated the Doctor. 

" Ay, sir, that's the puzzle of it. Lady Cleeve can't give it him. 
Anyway, he has it; and sits at the Captain's card-table with a heap of 
gold and silver piled up before him." 

Dr. Downes fell into a rather unpleasant reverie. He knew 
nothing of the money that Lady Cleeve had placed to her son's 
account in the bank, and he wondered where Philip's means could 
come from. 

" Camberley and Lennox, and those rich fellows, may stake ten- 
pound notes if they choose to be so idiotic," cogitated the Doctor ; 
" but such recklessness in Philip means ruin. What possesses the 
lad ? Takes after his father, I'm afraid : he rushed into folly in his 
young days. But he pulled himself up in time." 

Mark came back from the Vicarage, bringing no news of the 
gold snuff-box. The Vicar, much concerned, searched in the hall 
himself; he spoke of the pinch he had taken from the box, and he 
saw Dr. Downes return the box to his pocket. Dr. Downes sat 
looking uneasily into the dying embers of his fire as he revolved 
the news. 

" Is it possible," he presently asked himself, " is it possible that 
Philip can have stolen the box ? Stolen it to make money of for his 
cards and billiards ? " 



CHAPTER XV. 

" PATCHWORK." 



The Reverend Francis Kettle and his daughter Maria sat down to 
their breakfast-table somewhat later than usual : the dinner-party of 
the previous evening had made the servants busy. The thoughts of 
each were pre-occupied : the Vicar's with the strange loss of Dr. 
Downes' gold snuff-box, of which he spoke from time to time ; Maria's 
with the proposal of marriage made to her by PhiHp Cleeve : the 
most momentous proposal a young girl can receive. Presently Mr. 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 335 

Kettle found leisure to take up a letter, which had been lying by his 
plate, unopened. 

" Oh," said he, *' it is from Mrs. Page." 

Maria glanced up with a smile. " In trouble as usual, papa, with 
her servants ? " 

** Of course. And with herself, too," added the Vicar, as he read 
the short letter. '' She wants you to go to her, Maria." 

Mrs. Page was the one rich relation of the Kettle family : first 
cousin to the late Mrs. Kettle. She lived in Leamington, in a 
handsome house of her own, and with a good estabUshment ; and 
she might have been as happy there as any wealthy and popular 
widow lady ever was yet. But, though good at heart, Mrs. Page 
was intensely capricious and exacting ; she lived in almost perpetual 
hot water with her servants, and changed them every two or three 
months. This week, for instance, she would be rich in domestics, 
not lacking one in any capacity ; the next week the whole lot 
would depart in a body, turned away, or turning themselves away, 
and Mrs. Page be reduced to a couple of charwomen. But her 
goodness of heart was undeniable; and many a Christmas Day 
had Mr. Kettle received from her a fifty-pound note, to be dis- 
tributed by himself and Maria amongst their poor. 

Every now and then she would send a peremptory summons for 
Maria; and the Vicar never suffered it to be disobeyed. "She is 
getting old now, Maria, she is nearly the only relative left of your 
poor mother's, and I cannot suffer you to neglect her," he would say. 
But he did not choose to append to this another reason, which, 
perhaps, weighed greatly with himself, and add — and she is rich, and 
will probably remember you in her will if you do not offend her. 

" The servants all went off the day before yesterday, Maria ; and 
she says she is feeling very ill, and wants you to go to her as soon as 
convenient," said Mr. Kettle, passing the letter to his daughter. 

" But I cannot go, papa." 

''Not go!" 

"I do not see that I can. There is so much work at home just now." 

''What work?" 

" With the parish " 

" Oh, hang the parish," put in the Vicar impulsively, and then 
coughed down his words. " The parish cannot expect to have you 
always, child." 

"It is a hard winter, papa, as to work ; many of the men are out 
of it entirely, as you know ; and that entails poverty and sickness on 
the wives and children. I have not told you how very many are sick." 

" Some of the ladies will see to them. You cannot be neglecting 
your own duties always, for their sakes." 

" Once I get to Leamington, papa, there is no knowing when I 
may be allowed to return. Mrs. Page kept me six months once ; I 
well remember that." 



2^6 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

" And if she wishes now to keep you for twelve months, twelve 
you must stay." 

*'0h, papa!" 

'' You are taking a lesson from Ella Winter's book," said the Vicar. 
*' She did not want to leave home in the autumn ; but it was all the 
better for her that she should. Her case, however, was different 
from yours, and I do not say she was wrong in wishing to remain 
with her uncle, so old and sick. I am not old, and I am not sick." 

But Maria thought her father was sick, though not, of course, with 
the mortal sickness of the Squire ; ay, and that, if not old, he was 
yet ageing. His health certainly seemed breaking a little, his eye- 
sight was failing him ; now and then his memory misled him. He 
displayed less interest than ever he had done in parish work, leaving 
nearly everything to the curate, Mr. Plympton, and Maria. His liking 
for old port was growing upon him, and he would sit all the evening 
with the bottle at his elbow, and was roused with difficulty when 
bed-time came. Altogether Maria would a vast deal rather not leave 
home ; but she saw she should have to do it. Perhaps in her heart 
she shrank also from being away from Philip. 

" I'm sure, papa, I can't think how things in the parish will get on 
without me," she said, as she laid down the letter. *' Think what a 
state they were in when we returned in the summer." 

The Vicar felt half offended. " Get on ? " said he. *' Why, bless 
me, shan't I and Plympton be here ? As to the state they fell into 
during our stay abroad, was not I away myself? One would think, 
Maria, you were parson and clerk and everything." 

Maria smiled her sweet smile. She knew her father set little store 
by her work in the parish, not in fact seeing the half she did, and she 
was glad it should be so. 

" And I should not, child, let you neglect Mrs. Page in her need 
— your mother's own cousin — for all the parishes in the diocese. So 
you can write to Mrs. Page this morning, or I will write if you are 
busy, and fix a day to go to her." 

Barely had they finished breakfast when Dr. Downes came in. 
The loss of the snuff-box grieved and annoyed him. Not so much 
for its value, not so much that it was the gift of a long-esteemed friend 
and patron, but for the uncertainty and suspicion attending the loss. 
That the box must have been cleverly filched out of his pocket he 
felt entirely convinced of : it could not have got out of itself All 
night long between his snatches of sleep had he been pondering the 
matter in his mind : and he came to the uneasy conclusion that Philip 
Cleeve had taken it : either to play him a foolish trick, or to convert 
the box into money for his own use. But this latter doubt the 
Doctor would keep to himself and guard carefully. Mr. Kettle met the 
Doctor with open hand. It was not the Vicar's way to put himself 
out over things ; but he was very considerably put out by this loss, 

^' I met that young blade, Philip Cleeve, in walking over here," 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 337 

observed the Doctor, as they were all three once more examining 
minutely every corner of the little hall — for, in a loss of this kind, we 
are apt to search a suspected spot over and over again. " I took the 
liberty of asking him whether he had purloined the box in joke when 
he was helping me with my great-coat on here last night. It must 
have been then, as I take it, that it left my pocket." 

Maria was rather struck with the Doctor's tone, unpleasantly so : it 
bore a resentful ring. " Philip would not play such a joke as that, 
Dr. Downes," she rejoined. " What did he say ? " 

" He said nothing at first, only stared at me and asked what I 
meant. So I told him what I meant : that my gold snuff-box had 
left my pocket last night in a mysterious and unaccountable manner, 
and I had been hoping that he had, perhaps, taken it, to play me a 
trick. He blushed red with that silly blush of his, assured me that 
he would not play so unjustifiable a trick on me, or on anyone 
else, and walked off, saying he had to catch a train. So there I was, 
as wise as before. — And the box is not here ; and it seems not to be 
anywhere." 

" Shall you have it cried ? " asked Mr. Kettle, as they returned to 
the breakfast-room. 

" Why yes, I shall. Not that I expect any good will come of it. 
Rely upon it, that box has not been dropped in the road ; it could 
not have been. It has been stolen ; and the thief will send it up to 
London with speedy despatch and make money of it. My only 
hope was, and that a slight one, that Philip Cleeve had got it for a lark." 

" But why Philip Cleeve ? " said the Vicar, hardly understanding. 
" Why not any other young fellow ? " 

" Because Philip Cleeve put my coat on for me, here, in your hall ; 
that is, helped me to put it on. I am sure the box was in my pocket 
then, it must have been ; and when I unbuttoned the coat at home, 
the box was gone." 

" You did not leave it in the carriage?" 

" I did not touch the box in the carriage : I never unbuttoned my 
overcoat, I tell you. Philip Cleeve knows that too : he went with 
me as far as Market Row." 

" It really does look as though Philip Cleeve had taken it — for a 
jest," spoke the Vicar. 

"No, no, papa," said Maria. "Philip is honourable." 

" Not quite so honourable perhaps as folks think him," quickly 
rejoined Dr. Downes. " Not that I say he did, or would do this. 
Philip Cleeve has his faults, I fear ; he must take care they don't get 
ahead of him, or they may land him in shoals and quicksands. And 
a certain young lady of my acquaintance had better not listen to his 
whispering until he has proved himself worthy to be listened to," 
■ added he, as the Vicar passed temporarily into the next room, "and 
— and has got some better prospect of a home in view than he has 
at present. Take an old man's advice for once, my dear." 

VOL. XXIX. z 



338 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

The stout" old Doctor had turned to Maria, and was stroking her 
hair fondly. In his apparently jesting tone there ran an earnest 
warning : and Maria blushed deeply as she Hstened to it. 

If the past night had been an uneasy one to Dr. Downes, it had 
also been one to Maria Kettle. Not from the same cause. Divest 
herself of a doubtful feeling with regard to Philip she could not. 
That he had no stability, that he was led away by any folly that 
crossed his path, and that — as Dr. Downes had but now put it— he 
had at present little prospect of making himself a home, a home to 
which he could take a wife, ISIaria was only too conscious of. She 
had a vast amount of common, sober sense \ and in that respect was 
a very contrast to Philip. Maria herself would have waited for Philip 
for ever and a day, and never lost hope : but she, after this sleepless 
night was passed, had very nearly concluded that there ought to be no 
engagement between them ; that it might be better for Philip's own 
sake he should not be hampered. It was rather singular that these 
words should have been spoken by Dr. Downes so soon afterwards to 
confirm her in her resolution. 

In the afternoon, between three and four o'clock, when the Vicar 
had gone up to Heron Dyke, Philip made his appearance at the 
Vicarage. He was sent away on business for the office early in the 
day, and had but now got back. Maria met him with a pretty blush 
and held out her hand, as the servant closed the door ; but Philip 
drew her to him and kissed her, sat down by her side on the sofa, 
and stole his arm round her waist. Maria gently put it away. 

" Philip," she said, "we were both, I fear, thoughtlessly rash last 

night." 

" In what way ?" asked Philip, possessing himself of her hand, as 

it seemed he was not to have her waist. 

'« Oh you know. In what you said and I — I listened to. I 

think we must wait a little, Philip : another year, or so. It will be 

best." 

" Wait for what ? What is running in your head, Maria ? '' 

" Until our prospects shall be a little more assured. Forgive me, 

PhiUp, but I mean it ; I am quite serious. ^ In a year's time from 

this, if you so wall it, we can speak of it again." 

" Do you mean to say there must be no engagement between us ? " 

fired Philip. 

'' There had better not be. Neither of us at present has any 

chance of carrying it out." 

" Oh," commented Philip, who was getting angry. ' Perhaps you 
will point out what you do mean, Maria. I can see no meaning 

in it." , 

The tears rose to Maria's eyes. " Philip dear, don t be vexed 
with me : I speak for your sake more than for my own. At present 
you have no home to take a wife to, no expectation of making 
one " 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 339 

'' But I have," interrupted Philip. '' Old Tiplady intends to take 
me into partnership." 

" Well — I hope he will : but still that lies in the future. Your 
mother, I feel sure, would not like to see you hamper yourself with 
a wife until you are quite justified in doing it. And then, on my 
side — how can I marry ? It would not be well possible for me to 
leave papa. And all the parish duties that I have made mine ; the 
visiting and the schools " Maria broke down with a sob. 

" That young fop, Plympton, ought to take these duties," returned 
Philip with a touch of petulance. " What's he good for ? Garden 
parties, and croquet, and flirting with the ladies. That's what he 
thinks of, rather than of looking after the poor wretches who live and 
die in the back lanes and alleys of the town." 

"He is young," said Maria gently. "Wisdom will come with 
years." 

" One would think that you were old^ to hear you talk, Maria." 

" I think I am ; old in experience. And so, Philip," sighed Maria, 
returning to the point, "let it be that there exists no actual en- 
gagement between us. I shall be the same to you that I have 
been ; the same always ; and when things look brighter for you and 
for me " 

His ill-humour had passed away like mist in the sunshine, and he 
sealed the bargain with a kiss. " Be assured of one thing, my darling," 
he whispered : "we shall not have to wait long if it depends on me. 
I will spare no pains, no exertion to get on, to offer you a home that 
all the world might approve, and to be in every respect what you 
would have me be." 

Maria told him then of the probability that she should have to go 
to Leamington for an indefinite period, should have to depart in the 
course of a very few days. Philip did not receive the news graciously, 
and relieved his mind by calling Mrs. Page selfish. 

" I can't stay longer," he said, getting up. " That precious office 

claims me; old Best does not know I am back yet. Here's a 

visitor for you in my stead, Maria," he broke off, as they heard one 
being admitted. 

It was Captain Lennox : who was calling to enquire about the 
health of the Vicar and Maria after the previous evening's dissipation. 
Philip was going ; and they all three stood together in the drawing- 
room for a minute or two. 

" By the way, talking of last night, what is this tale about old Dr. 
Downes losing his gold snuff-box ? " asked Captain Lennox. " The 
people at the library told me they had heard it cried, as I came by 
just now." 

" So he has lost it," said Philip. "That is, he thinks he has. I 
daresay he has put it in some place or other himself, and will find 
it before the day's over." 

" Did he miss it here ? " 



340 The Mystei'ies of Heron Dyke, 

" No ; not till he got home. And he had the impudence to ask 
me this morning whether I had taken it, because I helped to button 
his coat," added Philip. 

Captain Lennox looked at Philip, then at Maria, then at Philip 
again. "He asked you whether you had taken it!" exclaimed the 
Captain. 

"Taken it for a lark. As if I would do such a thing ! It's true I 
buttoned his coat for him, but I never saw or felt the box." 

" I do not quite understand yet," said Captain Lennox. 

" It seems that old Downes, just before he left, had his box out, 
handing it about for people to take pinches out of it. The Vicar 
took a pinch." 

" I saw that," interrupted Captain Lennox. " They were standing 
by the fire. Two or three of us were round them. Old Miss 
Parraway w^as, for one, I remember; I was talking with her." 

" Well," rather ungraciously went on Philip, impatient at the 
interruption, "the Doctor took his leave close upon that. I took 
mine, and I found him in the hall here, awkwardly fumbling with his 
overcoat. I helped him to get it on, and he gave me a lift in his 
brougham as far as my way went." 

"And when he got home he missed the box," added Maria, 
concluding the story, as Philip stopped. " It is a sad loss — and so 
very strange where the box can be, and how it can have gone." 

" Yes, it is strange — but I did not thank him for asking me 
whether I had taken it ; there was a tone in his voice which seemed 
to imply a suspicion that I had — and not as a joke." 

"And did you?" said Captain Lennox. 

Philip, who had been turning to the door after his last speech, 
wheeled round to face the Captain. "Did I whatV^ 

"Take it for a joke?" 

" No, of course I did not. Good-bye, Maria." 

" Here, you need not be so hasty, old fellow," laughed Captain 
Lennox, following Philip out. "You are as cranky as can be to-day. 
Of course you did not steal the box, Cleeve ; and of course I am 
not likely to think it. If I did, I should say so to your face," added 
the Captain, his light laugh deepening. " But — I say — do you 
know what this puts me in mind of?" 

" No. What ? " 

" Of Mrs. Carlyon's jewels. They disappeared in the same mys- 
terious way." 

Philip had the outer door open, when at this moment the Vicar 
turned in at the entrance gate. He shook hands cordially \\'ith 
them both. 

" I have been up to Heron Dyke," spoke he ; " and have met with 
the usual luck — non-admittance to the Squire. I must say I think 
they might let him see me." 

" It seems to me, sir, that they let him see nobody : for my part, 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 341 

I have grown tired of calling," said the Captain. ''Still, in your 
favour, his spiritual adviser, an exception might well be made." 

" I ventured to say as much to surly old Aaron this afternoon," 
returned Mr. Kettle. "He refused at first point-blank, saying it 
was one of his master's bad days, and he was sure he would not 
see me. I persevered; bidding him take a message for me to the 
Squire; so he showed me into one of the dull old rooms — all the 
blinds down — while he took it in." 

"And were you admitted, sir?" interposed impatient Philip, 
interested in the story, yet anxious to be gone. 

" No, I was not, Philip. Aaron came back in a few minutes, 
bringing me the Squire's message of refusal. He would have liked 
to see me ; very much ; but he was in truth too poorly for it to-day ; 
it was one of his weak days, and Jago had absolutely forbidden him 
to speak even to the attendants — and he sent his affectionate regards 
to me. So I came away : having made a fruitless errand, as usual." 

" If Jago's grand curative treatment consists in shutting up the 
Squire from the sight of all his friends, the less he boasts of it the 
better," cried Philip, as he marched away. " Tiplady remarked to 
me the other day that he thought there must be something very 
queer going on up there," concluded he, turning round at the gate 
to say it. 

Maria Kettle departed for Leamington, and the time passed on. 
Philip Cleeve attended well to his duties, seeming anxious to make 
up for past escapades. So far as The Lilacs went, no temptations 
assailed him, for the place was empty, Captain Lennox having joined 
his sister in London. No tidings could be heard of the gold snuff- 
box. Dr. Downes had had it cried and advertised ; but without 
result. It might be that he had his own opinion about the loss ; or 
it might be that he had not. During a little private conversation 
with Lady Cleeve, touching her state of health, she chanced to 
mention that she hoped Philip's future was pretty well assured. Mr. 
Tiplady meant to take him into partnership, and she had herself 
placed twelve hundred pounds to Philip's account at the bank. 

" That's where the young scapegrace has drawn his money from 
then, for his cards and his dice, and what not," quoth the Doctor to 
himself. " I hope with all my heart I was mistaken — but where 
the dickens can the box have gone to ? " 

The Doctor was fain to give the box up as a bad job. He told all 
his friends that he should never find it again, and the less said about 
it the better. 

In February Philip had a pleasant change. Mr. Tiplady despatched 
him to Norwich, to superintend certain improvements in one of its 
public buildings. Philip, before starting, spoke a word to the archi- 
tect of the anticipated partnership ; but Mr. Tiplady cut him short 
with a single sentence. " Time enough to talk of that, young sir." 



342 The Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

When Philip returned from Norwich, after his few weeks' stay 
there, during which he had done his best and given unlimited satis- 
faction, he heard that Captain Lennox and Mrs. Ducie were at The 
Lilacs — and to Philip the town seemed to look all the brighter for 
their presence. 

In spite of his former good resolution, he went over to call on 
Mrs. Ducie, went twice, neither of the times finding her at home. 
About this time Philip was surprised and gratified by receiving a, note 
of invitation from Lord Camberley to attend a concert and ball at 
Camberley Park. Philip took the note to his mother. *' My dear boy, 
you must go by all means," said Lady Cleeve. " This is an invitation 
which may lead to — to pleasant things. I am glad to find that they 
have not forgotten you are the son of Sir Gunton Cleeve. You have as 
good blood in your veins as anyone who will be there. What a pity, 
for your sake, dear, that we cannot live in the style we ought — to 
which you were born." 

So Philip went to the concert and ball. Lord Camberley vouch- 
safed him a couple of fingers and " how d'ye do," and introduced him 
to his aunt, the Hon. Mrs. Featherstone. Philip sat through the 
concert without speaking to anybody. He was glad when it came to 
an end, and he made his way to the ball-room. There he met several 
people with whom he was, more or less, acquainted. Presently his eye 
caught that of Mrs. Ducie, who was sitting somewhat apart from the 
general crush. She beckoned him to her side and held out her hand 
with a frank smile. 

'' What a truant you are. What have you been doing with your- 
self all this long time ? " she asked, as she made room for him to 
sit beside her. 

Philip told her, his laughing eyes bending in admiration on her 
face, that he had been staying for some weeks at Norwich, and that 
he had twice called at The Lilacs since his return, but had not found 
her at home. She listened in her pretty, engaging, attentive manner. 
"Do you dance?" she asked him, as another set was forming. 
" I do not care to — unless you will stand up with me," he re- 
plied. 

" I shall not dance to-night. Lord Camberley came up to ask me, 
but I said no : I told him I had sprained my foot. I do not much 
like Lord Camberley," she added confidentially — and Philip felt 
wonderfully flattered at the confidence. " I think he is random — 
and he is so fond of playing for high stakes at cards. I told Ferdi- 
nand the other day that I should object, were I in his place ; but, as 
he said, it did not often happen. Ferdinand, with his income, can 
afford a loss occasionally; but everybody is not so fortunate." 

Philip thought she looked at him with a kindly meaning as she 
spoke; he felt sure she held an especial interest in him, and a blush, 
bright and ingenuous as a schoolgirl's, rose to his face. 

He sat by Mrs. Ducie a great part of the evening and took her 



The Mysteries of Heron Dyke, 343 

down to supper. Captain Lennox came up several times, and they 
both invited him for the following Friday evening. 

When Friday evening came, and Philip found himself again at The 
Lilacs and knocked at the well-remembered door, it seemed to him as 
if the intervening weeks and all that had happened to him since his 
last visit were nothing more substantial than a dream. 

Two or three gentlemen were at the cottage this evening whom he 
had not met before, but to whom he was now introduced. After 
a light and elegantly served supper came cards and champagne. 
To-night, however, Philip did not play. He read poetry to Mrs. 
Ducie in a little boudoir that opened out of the drawing-room. So 
were woven again the bonds which at one time he believed were 
broken for ever. There was a strange, subtle fascination about this 
woman which held him almost as it were against his will. She was 
gracious and frank towards him, but that was all. She was gracious 
and frank to every gentleman who visited at the cottage. There was 
nothing in her manner towards Philip which would allow of his flatter- 
ing himself that he was a greater favourite than anyone else whom 
he met there : though at moments he did think she held him in 
interest. He certainly did not love her — his heart was given to 
Maria — but Margaret Ducie held him by an invisible chain which he 
was too weak to break. 

That Friday evening was but the precursor of many other evenings 
at The Lilacs : for all the old glamour had come back over Philip. 
Maria was away, and the cottage was a very pleasant place. Some- 
times he played cards, sometimes he did not ; sometimes he won a 
little money, not unfrequently he lost what for him was a considerable 
sum. Now and then it almost seemed as if Mrs. Ducie, compassion- 
ating his youth and inexperience, drew him away of set purpose from 
the card table. Be that as it may, when April came in, and Philip 
looked into the state of his banking account, he found to his dismay 
that in the course of the past few weeks he had lost upwards of a 
hundred pounds. How could he redeem it ? 

" Now's your time if you want to make a cool hundred or two," 
said Lennox to him a day or two later. 

Philip pricked up his ears. " Who does not want to make a cool 
hundred or two ? Only show me how." 

" The thing lies in a nutshell. Back Patchwork." 

*' Eh ? " queried Philip, who knew little more about racing and 
sporting matters than he did of the mysteries of Eleusis. 

" Back Patchwork," reiterated the Captain with emphasis. " I 
am quite aware that he's not a general favourite : the odds were ten 
to one against him last night : there's Trumpeter and Clansman, and 
one or two other horses that stand before him in public estimation. 
But take no notice of that. Camberley and I have got the tip, no 
matter how, and you may rely upon it that we know pretty well 
what we are about. Both of us are going to lay heavily on the 



344 ^^^^ Mysteries of Heron Dyke. 

horse, and if you have a few spare sovereigns you can't do better 
than follow our example." 

The Captain spoke of an early Spring Meeting at Newmarket ; and 
this particular race in it was exciting some interest at NuUington, for 
reasons which need not be detailed here. Philip, desperately anxious 
to replenish his diminished coffers, took the bait, though in a cautious 
manner, and betted twenty pounds on Patchwork. If the horse 
won, and Philip gained the odds, he would pocket two hundred 
pounds. 

He grew anxious. Everybody said that either Trumpeter or 
Clansman would win ; Patchwork was scoffed at as an outsider. 
Philip began to think of his twenty pounds as so much good money 
thrown away. 

At length the day of the race arrived, and Philip awaited the 
result with a feverish anxiety to which his young life had hitherto 
been a stranger. It's true, if he lost, twenty pounds would not ruin 
him ; but, if he won, two hundred would set him up. 

At length the looked-for news reached Nullington by telegram, 
and a slip of paper was pasted to the window of the Rose and Crown, 
on which was written in large characters : — Patchwork i. — Clans- 
man 2. — Trumpeter 3. 

Philip Cleeve fell back out of the crowd gathered there, with a 
great gasp of relief. 

Three days later Captain Lennox placed in his hands two hundred 
pounds in crisp Bank of England notes. '' If you had only taken 
my advice," he said, " and ventured fifty pounds instead of twenty, 
what a much richer man you would have been to-day ! " 

(To he continued.) 



-Ji'*<S=t§:^55^^^f*'*"*— 



345 



VERENA FONTAINE'S REBELLION. 

SPRING sunshine, bright and warm to-day, lay on Timberdale. 
Herbert Tanerton, looking sick and ill, sat on a bench on the 
front lawn, holding an argument with his wife, shielded from outside 
gazers by the clump of laurel-trees. We used to say the Rector's 
illnesses were all fancy and temper; but it seemed to be rather more 
than that now. Worse tempered he was than ever ; Jack's misfor- 
tunes and Jack's conduct annoyed him. During the past winter 
Jack had taken some employment at the Liverpool Docks, in con- 
nection with the Messrs. Freeman's ships. Goodness knew of what 
description it was, Herbert would say, turning up his nose. 

A day or two ago Jack made his appearance again at the Rectory ; 
had swooped down upon it without warning or ceremony, just as he 
had in the autumn. Herbert did not approve of that. He ap- 
proved still less of the object which had brought Jack at all. Jack 
was tired of the Liverpool Docks ; the work he had to do was not 
congenial to him ; and he had now come to Timberdale to ask 
Robert Ashton to make him his bailiff. Not being able to take a 
farm on his own account. Jack thought the next best thing would be 
to take the management of one. Robert Ashton would be parting 
with his bailiff at midsummer, and Jack would like to drop into the 
post. Anything much less congenial to the Rector's notions, Jack 
could hardly have pitched upon. 

" I can see what it is — Jack is going to be a thorn in my side for 
ever," the Rector was remarking to his wife, who sat near him, doing 
some useful work. " He never had any idea of the fitness of things. 
A bailiff, now ! — a servant ! " 

*' I wish you would let him take a farm, Herbert — lend him the 
money to stock one." 

*' I know you do ; you have said so before." 

Grace sighed. But when she had it on her conscience to say a 
thing she said it. 

" Herbert, you know — you know I have never thought it fair that 
we should enjoy all the income we do ; and " 

"What do you mean by 'fair'?" interrupted Herbert. *'I only 
enjoy my own." 

" Legally it is yours. Rightly, a large portion of it ought to be 
Jack's. It does not do us any good, Herbert, this superfluous 
income ; you only put it by. It does not in the slightest degree add 
to our enjoyment of life." 

** Do be quiet, Grace — unless you can talk sense. Jack will get 
no money from me. He ought to be at sea. What right had he to 



34^ Verena Fontaine's Rebellioft, 

give it up ? The Rose of Delhi is expected back now : let him take 
her again." 

*' You know why he will not, Herbert. And he must do some- 
thing for a living. I wish you would not object to his engaging 
himself to Robert Ashton. If " 

'' Why don't you wish anything else that's lowering and degrading ? 
You are as devoid of common sense as he ! " retorted the parson, 
walking away in a fume. 

Matters were in this state when we got back to Crabb Cot ; to 
stop at it for a longer or a shorter period as fate and the painters at 
Dyke Manor would allow. Jack urging Robert Ashton to promise 
him the bailiff's post — vacant the next midsummer; Herbert 
strenuously objecting to it ; and Robert Ashton in a state of dilemma 
between the two. He would have liked well enough to engage John 
Tanerton ; but he did not like to defy the Rector. When the Squire 
heard this later, his opinion vacillated, according to custom : now 
leaning to Herbert's side, now to Jack's. And the Fontaines, we 
found, were in all the bustle of house-moving. Their own house, 
Oxlip Grange, being at length ready for them, they were quitting 
Maythorn Bank. 

" Goodness bless me ! " cried the Squire, coming in at dusk from 
a stroll he had taken the evening of our arrival. " I never got such a 
turn in my life." 

*' What has given it you, sir ? " 

"What has given it me, Johnny? why. Sir Dace Fontaine. I 
never saw any man so changed," he went on, rubbing up his hair. 
" He looks like a ghost, more than a man." 

" Is he ill ? " 

" He must be ill. Sauntering down that narrow lane by Maythorn 
Bank, I came upon a tall something mooning along like a walking 
shadow. I might have taken it for a shadow, but that it lifted its 
bent head, and threw its staring eyes straight into mine — and I pro- 
test that a shadowy sensation crept over myself when I recognised it 
for Fontaine. You never saw a face so gloomy and wan. How long 
is it since we saw him, Johnny ? " 

"About nine months I think, sir." 

" The man must be suffering from a wasting complaint, or else he 
has some secret care that's fretting him to fiddle- strings. Mark my 
words, all of you, it is one or the other." 

" Dear me ! " put in Mrs. Todhetley, full of pity. " I always 
thought him a gloomy man. Did you ask him whether he was ill ? '* 

" Not I," said the Pater : " he gave me no opportunity. Had I 
been a sheriff's officer with a writ in my hand he could hardly have 
turned off shorter. They had moved into the other house that day, 
he muttered, and he must lock up Maythorn Bank and be after 
them." 

This account of Sir Dace was in a measure cleared up the next 



Verena Fontaine^ s Rebellion, 2iA7 

morning. Who should come in after breakfast but the surgeon, 
Cole. Talking of this and that, Sir Dace Fontaine's name came 
up. 

*' I am on my way now to Sir Dace ; to the new place," cried 
Cole. " They went into it yesterday. Might have gone in a month 
ago, but Sir Dace made no move to do it. He seems to have no 
heart left to do anything ; neither heart nor energy." 

" I knew he was ill," cried the Squire. " No mistaking that. 
And now, Cole, what is it that's the matter with him ? " 

" He shows symptoms of a very serious inward complaint," gravely 
answered Cole. " A complaint that, if it really does set in, must 
prove fatal. We have some hopes yet that we shall ward it off. 
Sir Dace does not think we shall, and is in a rare fright about 
himself." 

" A fright, is he ! That's it, then." 

" Never saw any man in such a fright before," went on Cole. 
" Says he's going to die — and he does not want to die." 

" I said last night the man was like a walking shadow. And 
there's a kind of scare in his face." 

Cole nodded. " Two or three weeks ago I got a note from him, 
asking me to call. I found him something like a shadow, as you 
observe, Squire. The cold weather had kept him indoors, and I 
had not chanced to see him for some weeks. When Sir Dace told 
me his symptoms, I suppose I looked grave. Combined with his 
wasted appearance, they unpleasantly impressed me, and he took 
alarm. * The truth,' he said, in his arbitrary way : ' tell me the 
truth j only that. Conceal nothing.' Well, when a patient adjures 
me in a solemn manner to tell the truth, I deem it my duty to do 
so," added Cole, looking up. 

" Go on. Cole," cried the Squire, nodding approval. 

" I told him the truth, softening it in a degree — that I did not 
altogether like some of the symptoms, but that I hoped, with skill 
and care, to get him round again. The same day he sent for 
Darby shire of Timberdale, saying we must attend him conjointly, 
for two heads were better than one. Two days later he sent for 
somebody else — no other than Mr. Ben Rymer." 

We all screamed out in surprise. " Ben Rymer ! " 

"Ay," said Cole, "Ben Rymer. Ben has got through and is a 
surgeon now, like the rest of us. And, upon my word, I believe 
the fellow has his profession thoroughly in hand. He will make a 
name in the world, the chances for it being afforded him, unless 
I am mistaken." 

Something like moisture stood in the Squire's good old eyes. "If 
his father, poor Rymer, had but lived to see it ! " he softly said. 
"Anxiety, touching Ben, killed him." 

" So we three doctors make a pilgrimage to Sir Dace regularly 
every day; sometimes together, sometimes apart," added Cole. 



34^ Vereiia Fontaine's Rebellion. 

" And, of the three of us, I believe the patient likes young Rymer 
best — has most confidence in him." 

" Shall you cure him ? " 

*' Well, we do not yet give up hope. If the disease does set in, 
it will " 

"What?" 

" Run its course quickly." 

"An instant yet, Cole," cried the Squire, stopping the surgeon as 
he was turning away. " You have told us nothing. How does the 
parish get on ? — and the people ? How is Letsom ? — and Crabb 
generally ? Tanerton — how is he ? — and Timberdale ? Coming 
here fresh, we are thirsting for news." 

Cole laughed. He knew the Pater liked gossip as much as any old 
woman : and the reader must understand that, as yet, we had not 
heard any, having reached Crabb Cot late the previous afternoon. 

''There is no particular news, Squire," said he. "Letsom is 
well ; so is Crabb. Herbert Tanerton's not well. He is in a 
crusty way over Jack." 

" He is always in a way over something. Where is Jack ? " 

"Jack's here, at the Rectory; just come to it. Robert Ashton's 
bailiff is about to take a farm on his own account, and Jack camxC 
rushing over from Liverpool to apply for the post." 

Tod, who had been too much occupied with his fishing flies to 
take much heed before, set up a shrill whistle at this. " How will 
the parson like that ? " he asked. 

" The parson does not like it at all. Whether he will succeed in 
preventing it, is another matter," concluded Cole. And, with that, 
he made his escape. 

Close upon the surgeon's departure. Colonel Letsom came in ; he 
had heard of our arrival. It was a pity, he said, the two brothers 
should be at variance. Jack wanted the post — he must make a 
living somehow ; and the Rector was in a way over it ; not quite 
mad, but next door to it \ Ashton of course not knowing what to do 
between them. From that subject, he began to speak of the 
Fontaines. 

A West Indian planter, one George Bazalgette, had been over on 
a visit, he said, and had spent Christmas at IMaythorn Bank ; his 
object being to induce Verena to accept him as her husband. Verena 
would not listen to him, and he wasted his eloquence in vain. She 
made no hesitation in avowing to him that her affections were buried 
in the grave of Edward Pym. 

"Fontaine told me confidentially in London that he intended she 
should have Bazalgette," remarked the Squire. " It was the evening 
we went looking for her at that wax-work place." 

"Ay; but Fontaine is changed," returned the Colonel: "all his 
old domineering ways are gone out of him. When Bazalgette was 
over here, he did not attempt even to persuade her : she must take 



Vereiia Fontaine^ s Rebellion. 349 

her own course, he said. So poor Bazalgette went back as he 
came — wifeless. It was a pity." 

*' Why ? " 

*' Because this George Bazalgette was a nice fellow," replied 
Colonel Letsom. "An open-hearted, fine-looking, generous man, 
and desperately in love with her. Miss Verena will not readily find 
his compeer in a summer day's march." 

*' As old as Adam, I suppose. Colonel," interjected Tod. 

" Yes — if you choose to put Adam's age down at three or four 
and thirty," laughed the Colonel, as he took his leave. 

To wait many hours, once she was at Crabb, without laying in a 
stock of those delectable ''family pills," invented by the late Thomas 
Rymer, would have been quite beyond the philosophy of Mrs. Tod- 
hetley. That first morning, not ten minutes after Colonel Letsom 
left us, taking the Squire with him, she despatched me to Timberdale 
for a big box of them. Tod would not come : said he had his flies 
to see to. 

Dashing through the ravine and out on the field beyond it, I 
came upon Jack Tanerton. Good old Jack ! The Squire had said 
Sir Dace was changed : I saw that Jack was. He looked taller and 
thinner, and the once beaming face had care upon it. 

" Where are you bound for, Jack ? " 

"Not for any place in particular. Just sauntering about." 

"Walk my way, then. I am going to Rymer's." 

" It is such nonsense," cried Jack, speaking of his brother, aftei 
we had plunged a bit into affairs. " Calling it derogatory, and all 
the rest of it ! I could be just as much of a gentleman as Ashton's 
bailiff as I am now. Everybody knows me. He gives a good salary, and 
there's a pretty house ; and I have also my own small income. Alice 
and I and the little ones should be as happy as the day's long. If I 
give in to Herbert and don't take it, I don't see what I am to turn to." 

" But, Jack, why do you give up the sea ? " I asked. And Jack 
told me what he had told others : he should never take command 
again until he was a free man. 

" Don't you think you are letting that past matter hold too great 
an influence over you?" I presently said. "You must be conscious 
of your own innocence — and yet you seem as sad and subdued as 
though you were guilty ! " 

" I am subdued because other people think me guilty ! " he 
answered. " Changed? I am. It is that which has changed me; 
not the calamity itself." 

" Jack, were I you, I should stand up in the face and eyes of 
all the world, and say to them, 'Before God, I did not kill Pym.' 
People would believe you then. But you don't do it." 

"I have my reasons for not doing it, Johnny Ludlow. God knows 
what they are ; He knows all things. I daresay I may be set right 
J with^the world in time : though I don't see how it is to be done." 



350 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

A smart young man, a new assistant, was behind the counter at 
Ben Rymer's, and served me with the pills. Coming out, box in 
hand, we met Ben himself. I hardly knew him, he was so spruce. 
His fiery hair and whiskers were trimmed down to neatness and 
looked of a more reasonable colour ; his red-brown beard was cer- 
tainly handsome, and his clothes were well cut. 

" Why, he has grown into a dandy, Jack," I said, after we had 
stood a minute or two, talking with the surgeon. 

" Yes," said Jack, " he is going in for the proprieties of life now. 
Ben may make a gentleman yet — and a good man to boot." 

That same afternoon, it chanced that the Squire met Ben Rymer. 
Striding along in his powerful fashion, Ben came full tilt round the 
sharp corner that makes the turning to the Islip Road, and nearly 
ran over the Pater. Ben had been to Oxlip Grange. 

" So, sir," cried the Pater, stopping him, " I hear you are in 
practice now, and intend to become a respectable man. It's time 
you did." 

" Ay, at last," replied Ben good-humouredly. " It is a long lane, 
Squire, that has no turning." 

" Don't you lapse back again, Mr. Ben." 

" Not if I know it, sir. I hope I shall not." 

** It was anxiety on your score, you know, that troubled your good 
father's mind in dying." 

"If it did not bring his death on," readily conceded Ben, his light 
tone changing. " I know it all, Squire — and have felt it." 

** Look here," cried the Squire, catching at Ben's button-hole, 
which had a lovely lily-of-the-valley in it, " there was nothing on 
earth your poor patient father prayed for so earnestly as for your wel- 
fare ; that you might be saved for time and eternity. Now I don't 
believe such prayers are ever lost. So you will be helped on your 
way if you bear steadfastly onwards." 

Giving the young man's hand a wring, the Squire turned off on his 
way. In half a minute he was back again. 

" Hey, Mr. Benjamin ! — here. How is Sir Dace Fontaine ? I 
suppose you have just left him?" 

So Ben had to come back at the call. To the Pater's surprise he 
saw his eyes were moist. 

" He is worse, sir, to-day ; palpably worse." 

*' Will he get over it ? " 

Ben gave his head an emphatic shake, which somehow belied his 
words : " Cole and Darbyshire think there is hope yet. Squire." 

" And you do not ; that's evident. Well, good-day." 



II. 

The next move in this veritable drama was the appearance of Alice 
Tanerton and her six-months-old baby at Timberdale. Looking upon 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 351 

the Rectory as almost her home — It had been Jack's for many years 
of his life — Alice came to it without the ceremony of invitation : the 
object of her coming now being to strive to induce Herbert to let 
her husband engage himself to Robert Ashton. And this visit of 
Alice's was destined to bring about a most extraordinary event. 

One Wednesday evening when Jack and his wife were dining with 
us — and that troublesome baby, which Alice could not, as it seemed, 
stir abroad without, was in the nursery squealing — Alice chanced to 
say that she had to go to Islip the following day, her mother having 
charged her to see John Paul the lawyer, concerning a little pro- 
perty that she. Aunt Dean, held in Crabb. It would be a tremen- 
dously long walk for Alice from Timberdale, especially as she was 
not looking strong, and Mrs. Todhetley proposed that I should drive 
her over in the pony-carriage : which Alice jumped at. 

Accordingly, the next morning, which was warm and bright, I took 
the pony-carriage to the Rectory, picked up Alice, and then drove 
back towards Islip. As we passed Oxlip Grange, which lay in our 
way. Sir Dace Fontaine was outside in the road, slowly pacing the 
side-path. I thought I had never seen a man look so ill : so doiun 
and gloomy. He raised his eyes, as we came up, to give me a nod. 
I was nodding back again, when Alice screamed out and startled 
me. She started the pony too, which sprang on at a tangent. 

" Johnny ! Johnny Ludlow ! " she gasped, her face whiter than 
death and her lips trembling like an aspen leaf, " did you see that 
man ? Did you see him ? " 

" Yes. I was nodding to him. What is the matter ? " 

" It was the man I saw in my dream : the man who had com- 
mitted the murder in it." 

I stared at her, wondering whether she had lost her wits. 

" Do you remember the description I gave of that man ? " she 
continued, in excitement. *'/ do. I wrote it down at the time, 
and Mr. Todhetley holds it, sealed up. Every word, every particu- 
lar is in my memory now, as I saw him in my dream. 'A tall, 
evil-looking, dark man in a long brown coat, who walked with his 
eyes fixed on the ground.' I tell you, Johnny Ludlow, that is the 

Her vehemence infected me. I looked round after Sir Dace. He 
was turning this way now. Certainly the description seemed like 
enough. His countenance just now did look an evil one ; and he 
was tall and he was dark, and he wore a long brown coat this morn- 
ing, nearly reaching to his heels, and his eyes were fixed on the 
ground as he walked. 

'' But what if his looks do tally with the man you saw in your 
dream, Alice ? What of it ? " 

" What of it ! " she echoed, vehemently. " What of it ! Why, 
don't you see, Johnny Ludlow ? This man must have killed Edward 
Pym." 



352 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion, 

" Hush, Alice ! It is impossible. This is Sir Dace Fontaine." 

" I do not care who he is," was her impulsive retort. " As surely 
as that Heaven is above us, Edward Pym got his death at the hand 
of this man. My dream revealed it to me." 

I might as well have tried to stem a torrent as to argue with her ; 
so I drove on and held my tongue. Arrived at the office of Paul 
and Chandler, I following her in, leaving a boy with the pony outside. 
Alice pounced upon old Paul with the assertion : Sir Dace Fontaine 
was the evil and guilty man she had seen in her dream. Consider- 
ing that Paul was a sort of cousin to Sir Dace's late wife, this was 
pretty well. Old Paul stared at her as I had done. Her cheeks 
were hectic, her eyes wildly earnest. She recalled to the lawyer's 
memory the dream she had related to him ; she asserted in the most 
unqualified manner that Dace Fontaine was guilty. Tom Chandler, 
who was old Paul's partner and had married his daughter Emma, 
came into the room in the middle of it, and took his share of staring. 

" It must be investigated," said Alice to them. *' Will you under- 
take it ? " 

" My dear young lady, one cannot act upon a fancy — a dream," 
cried old Paul : and there was a curious sound of compassionate 
pity in his voice, which betrayed to Alice the gratifying fact that 
he was regarding her as a monomaniac. 

*' If you will not act, others will," she concluded at last, after ex- 
hausting her arguments in vain. And she came away with me in 
resentment, having totally forgotten all about her mother's business. 

To Crabb Cot then — she luoidd go — to take counsel with the 
Squire. He told her to her face she was worse than a lunatic to 
suspect Sir Dace ; and he would hardly get out the sealed packet 
at all. It was opened at last, and the dream, as written down in 
it by herself at the time, read. 

" John Tanerton, my husband, was going to sea in command," it 
began. " He came to me the morning of the day they were to sail, 
looking very patient, pale and sorrowful : more so than anyone, I 
think, could look in life. He and I seemed to have had some 
estrangement the previous night that was not remembered by either 
of us now, and I, for one, repented of it. Somebody was murdered 
(though I could not tell how this had been revealed to me), some 
man ; Jack was suspected by all people, but they could not bring it 
home to him. We were in some strange town ; strangers in it ; 
though I, as it seemed to me, had been in it once, many years 
before. All this while, Jack was standing before me in his sadness 
and sorrow, mutely appealing to me, as it seemed, to clear him. 
Everybody was talking of it and glancing at us askance, everybody 
shunned us, and we were in cruel distress. Suddenly I remembered 
that when I was in the town before, the man now murdered had had 
a bitter quarrel with another man, a gentleman of note in the town ; 
and a conviction came over me, powerful as a revelation, that it was 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 353 

he who had now committed the murder. I left Jack, and told this 
to someone connected with the ship, its owner, I think. He 
laughed at the words, saying that the gentleman I would accuse was 
of high authority in the town, one of its first magnates. That he 
had done it, however high he might be, I felt perfectly certain ; but 
nobody would listen to me , nobody would heed so improbable a 
tale : and, in the trouble this brought me, I awoke. Such trouble 1 
Nothing like it could be felt in real life. 

" That was dream the first. 

** I lay awake for some little time thinking of it, and then went to 
sleep again : and this was dream the second. 

" The dream seemed to recommence from where it had left off. 
It was afternoon. I was in a large open carriage, going through the 
streets of the town, the ship's owner (as I say I think he was) sitting 
beside me. In passing over a bridge we saw two gentlemen walking 
towards us arm-in-arm on the foot-path, one of them an officer in a 
dusky old red uniform and cocked hat, the other a tall, evil-looking, 
dark man, who wore a long brown coat and kept his eyes on the 
ground. Though I had never seen him in my life before, I knew it 
was the guilty man ; he had killed the other, committed the crime irt 
secret : but ere I could speak, he who was sitting with me said, 
' There's the gentleman you would have accused this morning. He 
stands before everybody else in the town. Fancy your accusing him 
of such a thing!' It seemed to me that I did not answer, could 
not answer for the pain. That he was guilty I knew, and not Jack, 
but I had no means of bringing it home to him. He and the man 
in uniform walked on in their secure immunity, and I went on in the 
carriage in my pain. The pain awoke me. 

" And now it only remains for me to declare that I have set down 
this singular dream truthfully, word for word ; and I shall seal it up 
and keep it. It may be of use if any trouble falls upon Jack, as the 
dream seems to foretell — and of some trouble in store for him he 
has already felt the shadow. So strangely vivid a dream, and the 
intense pain it brought and leaves with me, can hardly have visited 
me for nothing. — Alice Tanerton." 

That was all the paper said. The Squire poring his good old 
spectacles over it, shook his head as Alice pointed out the descrip- 
tion of the guilty man, how exactly it tallied with the appearance of 
Sir Dace Fontaine; but he only repeated Faul the lawyer's words,, 
'* One cannot act upon a dream." 

"It was Sir Dace; it was Sir Dace," reiterated Alice, clasping 
her hands piteously. " I am as sure of it as that I hope to go to 
Heaven." And I drove her home in the belief. 

There ensued a commotion. Not a commotion to be told to the 
parish, but a private one amidst ourselves. I never saw a woman in 
such a fever of excitement as Alice Tanerton was in from that day.^ 
or anyone take up a matter so warmly. 

VOL. XXIX. A A 



354 Vereiia Fontaine's Rebellion* 

Captain Tanerton did not adopt her views. He shook his head, and 
said Sir Dace it could ;/^/have been. Sir Dace was at his house in the 
Marylebone Road at theveryhourthecalamity happened off Tower Hill. 
I followed suit, bearing out jack's word. Was I not at the Marylebone 
Road that evening myself, playing chess with Coralie ? — and was not 
Sir Dace shut up in his library all the time, and never came out of it ? 

Alice listened, and looked puzzled to death. But she held to her 
own opinion. And when a fit of desperate obstinacy takes pos- 
session of a woman without rhyme or reason, you cannot shake it. 
As good try to argue with the whistling wind. She did not pretend 
to see how it could have been, she said, but Sir Dace was guilty. 
And she haunted Paul and Chandler's office at Islip, praying them 
to take the matter up. 

At length, to soothe her, and perhaps to prevent her carrying it 
elsewhere, they promised they would. And of course they had to 
make some show of doing it. 

One evening Tom Chandler came to Crabb Cot and asked to see 
me alone. " I want you to tell me all the particulars you remember 
of that fatal night," he began, when I went to him in the Squire's 
little room. "I have taken down Captain Tanerton's testimony, 
and I must have yours, Johnny." 

" But, are you going to stir in it ? " 

" We must do something, I suppose. Paul thinks so. I am 
going to London to-morrow on other matters, and shall use the 
opportunity to make an enquiry or two. It is rather a strange piece 
of business altogether," added Mr. Chandler, as he took his place 
at the table and drew the inkstand towards him. *' John Tanerton 
is innocent. I feel sure of that." 

" How strongly Mrs. Tanerton has taken it up ! " 

" Pretty well for that," answered Tom Chandler, a smile on his 
good-natured face. " She told us yesterday in the ofEce that it must 
be the consciousness of guilt which has worried Sir Dace to a 
skeleton. Now then, we'll begin." 

He dotted down my answers to his questions, also what I volun- 
tarily added. Then he took a sheet of paper from his pocket, 
closely written upon, and compared its statements — they were 
Tanerton's — with mine. Putting his finger on the paper to mark a 
place, he looked at me. 

"Did Sir Dace speak of Pym or of Captain Tanerton that 
night, when you were playing chess with Miss Fontaine ? " 

" Sir Dace did not come into the drawing-room. He had left the 
dinner-table in a huff to shut himself up in his library, Miss 
Fontaine said ; and he stayed in it." 

" Then you did not see Sir Dace at all that night ? " 

" Oh yes, later — when Captain Tanerton and young Saxby came 
up to tell him of the death. We then all went down to Ship Street 
together. You have taken that down." 



Verena Fontaine^ s Rebellion. 355 

"True," said Chandler. "Well, I cannot make much out of it 
as it stands," he concluded, folding the papers and putting them in 
his pocket-book. "What do you say is the number of the house 
in the Marylebone Road ? " 

I told him, and he went away, wishing he could accept my offer 
of staying to drink tea with us. 

" Look here. Chandler," I said to him at the front door : " why 
don't you take down Sir Dace Fontaine's evidence, as well as mine 
and Tanerton's ? " 

" I have done it," he answered. " I was with Sir Dace to-day. 
Mrs. Tanerton's suspicions are of course — absurd," he added, making 
a pause, as if at a loss for a suitable word ; " but for her peace of 
mind, poor lady, we would like to pitch upon the right individual 
if we can. And as yet he seems to be a myth." 

The good ship, Rose of Delhi^ came gaily into port, and took 
up her berth in St. Katharine's Docks as before ; for she had been 
chartered for London. Her owners, the Freemans, wrote at once 
from Liverpool to Captain Tanerton, begging him to resume com- 
mand. Jack wrote back, and declined. 

How is it that whispers get about ? Do the birds in the air carry 
them ? — or the winds of Heaven ? In some cases it seems im- 
possible that anything else can have done it. Paul and Chandler, 
John Tanerton and his wife, the Squire and myself: we were the 
only people cognisant of the new suspicion that Alice was striving 
to cast on Sir Dace ; one and all of us had kept silent lips : 
and yet, the rumour got abroad. Sir Dace Fontaine was accused of 
knowing more about Pym's death than he ought to know, and Tom 
Chandler was in London for the purpose of investigating it. This 
might not have mattered very much for ordinary ears, but it reached 
those of Sir Dace. 

Coralie Fontaine heard it from Mary Ann Letsom. In Mary 
Ann's indignation at the report, she spoke it out to Coralie ; and 
Coralie, laughing at the absurdity of the thing, repeated it to Sir 
Dace. How he received it, or what he said about it, did not transpire. 

A stagnant kind of atmosphere seemed to hang over us just then, 
like the heavy, unnatural calm that precedes the storm. Sir Dace 
got weaker day by day, more of a shadow ; Herbert Tanerton and 
his brother were still at variance, so far as Jack's future was con- 
cerned ; and Mr. Chandler seemed to have taken up his abode in 
London for good. 

" Does he never mean to come back?" demanded Alice one day 
of the Squire : and her lips and cheeks were red with fever as she 
asked it. The truth was, that some cause of Paul and Chandler's 
then on at Westminster was prolonging itself out — even when it did 
begin — unconscionably. 



356 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

One morning I met Ben Rymer as he was leaving Oxlip Grange. 
Coralie Fontaine had walked with him to the gate, talking earnestly, 
their two heads together. Ben shook hands with her and came out, 
looking as grave as a judge. 

** How is Sir Dace ? " I asked him. " Getting on ? " 
*' Getting off," responded Ben. " For that's what it will be now; 
and not long first, unless he mends." 
" Is he worse ? " 

" He is nearly as bad as he can be, to be alive. And yesterday 
he must needs go careering off to Islip by himself to transact some 
business with Paul the lawyer ! He was no more fit for it than — 
than this is," concluded Ben, giving a flick to his silk umbrella as he 
marched off. Ben went in for silk umbrellas now : in the old days 
a cotton one would have been too good for him. 

** I am so sorry to hear Sir Dace is no better," I said to Coralie 
Fontaine, who had waited at the gate to speak to me. 

Coralie shook her head. Some deep feeling sat in her generally 
passive face : the tears stood in her eyes. 

*' Thank you, Johnny Ludlow. It is very sad. I feel sure Mr. 
Rymer has given up all hope, though he does not say so to me. 
Verena looks nearly as ill as papa. I wish we had never come to 
Europe ! " 

" Sir Dace exerts himself too greatly, Mr. Rymer says." 
" Yes ; and worries himself also. As if his affairs needed as 
much as a thought ! — I am sure they must be just as straight and 
smooth as yonder green plain. He had to see Mr. Paul yesterday 
about some alteration in his will, and went to Islip, instead of sending 
for Paul here. I thought he would have died when he got home. 
Papa has a strange restlessness upon him. Good-bye, Johnny. 
I'd ask you to come in but that things are all so miserable." 



in. 

It was late in the evening, getting towards bed-time. Mrs. Todhetlcy 
had gone'' upstairs with the face-ache. Tod was over at old Coney's, 
and I and the Squire were sitting alone, when Thomas surprised us 
by showing in Tom Chandler. We did not know he was back from 
London. 

*' Yes, I got back this evening," said he, as he sat down near the 
lamp, and spread some papers out on the table. " I am in a bit of 
a dilemma, Mr. Todhetley ; and I am come here at this late hour to 
put it before you." 

Chandler's voice had dropped to a mysterious whisper ; his eyes 
were glancing at the door to make sure it was shut. The Squire 
pushed up his spectacles and drew his chair nearer. I sat on the 
opposite side, wondering what was coming. 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 357 

*'That suspicion of Alice Tanerton's — that Sir Dace killed Pym," 
went on Chandler, his left hand resting on the papers, his eyes on 
the Squire's. " I think it was a true one." 
''A what?" cried the Pater. 
'*A true one. That Sir Dace did kill him." 
" Goodness bless me ! " gasped the Squire, his good old face 
taking a lighter tint. " What on earth do you mean, man ? " 

" Well, I mean just that," answered Chandler. ** And I feel my- 
self to be, in consequence, in an uncommonly awkward position. 
One can't well accuse Sir Dace, a man close upon the grave ; and 
Paul's relative in addition. And yet, Captain Tanerton must be 
cleared." 

" I can't make top or tail of what you mean, Tom Chandler I " 
cried the Squire, blinking like a bewildered owl. " Don't you 
think you are dreaming ? " 

"Wish I was," said Tom, "so far as this business goes. Look 
here. I'll begin at the beginning and go through the story. You'll 
understand it then." 

*' It's more than I do now. Or Johnny, either. Look at him ! " 
** When Mrs. John Tanerton brought to us that accusation of Sir 
Dace, on the strength of her dream," began Chandler, after glancing 
at me, " I thought she must have turned a little crazy. It was a 
singular dream ; there's no denying that ; and the exact resemblance 
to Sir Dace Fontaine of the man she saw in it, was still more singular : 
so much so, that I could not help being impressed by it. Another 
thing that strongly impressed me, was Captain Tanerton's testi- 
mony : from the moment I heard it and weighed his manner in 
giving it, I felt sure of his innocence. Revolving these matters in 
my own mind, I resolved to go to Sir Dace and get him to give me 
his version of the affair; not in the least endorsing in my own mind 
her suspicion of him, or hinting at it to him, you understand; simply 
to get more evidence. I went to Sir Dace, heard what he had to 
say, and brought away with me a most unpleasant doubt." 
"That he was guilty?" 

" That he might be. His manner was so confused, himself so 
agitated when I first spoke. His hands trembled, his lips grew 
white. He strove to turn it off, saying I had startled him, but I 
felt a very queer doubt arising in my mind. His narrative had to 
be drawn from him ; it was anything but clear, and full of contra- 
-dictions. ' Why do you come to me about this ? ' he asked : * have 
you heard anything ? ' * I only come to ask you for information,* 
was my answer : ' Mrs. John Tanerton wants the matter looked into. 
If her husband is not guilty, he ought to be cleared in the face of 
the world.' 'Nobody thinks he was guilty,' retorted Sir Dace in a 
shrill tone of annoyance. ' Nobody was guilty : Pym must have 
fallen and injured himself.' I came away from the interview, as I 
tell you, with my doubts very unpleasantly stirred," resumed Chandler ; 



358 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

*' and It caused me to be more earnest in looking after odds and ends 
of evidence in London than I otherwise might have been." 
" Did you pick up any ? " 

"Ay, I did. I turned the people at the Marylebone lodgings 
inside out, so to say; I found out a Mrs. Ball, where Verena Fontaine 
had hidden herself; and I quite haunted Dame Richenough's in Ship 
Street, Tower Hill. There \ met with Mark Ferrar. A piece of 

good fortune, for he told me something that " 

" What was it ? " gasped the Squire, eagerly. 

" Why this — and a most important piece of evidence it is. That 
night, not many minutes before the fatal accident must have occurred, 
Ferrar saw Sir Dace Fontaine in Ship Street, watching Pym's room. 
He was standing in an entry on the opposite side of the street, gazing 
across at Pym's. This, you perceive, disproves one fact testified to 
— that Sir Dace spent that evening shut up in his library at home. 
Instead of that he was absolutely down on the spot." 

The Squire rubbed his face like a helpless man. "Why could 
not Ferrar have said so at the time ? " he asked. 

" Ferrar attached no importance to it ; he thought Sir Dace was 
but looking over to see whether his daughter was at Pym's. But 
Ferrar had no opportunity of giving testimony : he sailed away the 
next morning in the ship. Nothing could exceed his astonishment 
when I told him in London that Captain Tanerton lay under the 
suspicion. He has taken Crabb on his way to Worcester to support 
this testimony if needful, and to impart it privately to Tanerton." 

" Well, it all seems a hopeless puzzle to me," returned the Pater. 
" Why on earth did not Jack speak out more freely, and say he was 
not guilty ? " 

'* I don't know. The fact, that Sir Dace did go out that night," 
continued Chandler, "was confirmed by one of the maids in the 
Marylebone Road — Maria; a smart girl with curled hair. She says 
Sir Dace had not been many minutes in the library that night, to 
which he went straight from the dinner-table in a passion, when she 
saw him leave it again, catch up his hat with a jerk as he passed 
through the hall, and go out at the front door. It was just after 
Ozias had been to ask him whether he would take some coffee, and 
got sent away with a flea in his ear. Whether or not Sir Dace came 
in during the evening, Maria does not know ; he may, or may not, 
have done so ; but she did see him come home in a cab at ten 
o'clock, or soon after it. She was gossipping with the maids at a 
house some few doors off, when a cab stopped near to them ; Sir 
Dace got out of it, paid the man, and walked on to his own door. 
Maria supposed the driver had made a mistake in the number. So 
you see there can be no doubt that Sir Dace was out that night." 

" He was certainly in soon after ten," I remarked. " Verena came 
home about that time, and she saw him downstairs." 

" Don't you bring her name up, Johnny," corrected the Squire. 



Verena Fontaine's Rebellion, 359 

" That young woman led to all the mischief. Running away, as she 
did— and sending us off to that wax-work show in search of her ! 
Fine figures they cut, some of those dumb things ! " 

" I found also," resumed Chandler, turning over his papers, on 
which he had looked from time to time, " that Sir Dace met with 
one or two slight personal mishaps that night. He spramed his 
wrist, accounting for it the next morning by saying he had slipped in 
getting into bed ; and he lost a little piece out of his shirt-front." 

"Out of his shirt-front!" . 

"Just here," and Chandler touched the middle button of his shirt. 
"The button-hole and a portion of the linen round it had been torn 
away. Nothing would have been known of that but for the laundress. 
She brought the shirt back before putting it into water, lest it should 
be said she had done it in the washing. Maria remembered this, 
and told me. A remarkably intelligent girl, that." ^ „ i , 

" Did Maria— I remember the girl— suspect anything ? ' asked 

the Squire. 

" Nothing whatever. She does not now ; I accounted otherwise 
for my enquiries. Altogether, what with these facts I have told you, 
and a few minor items, and Ferrar's evidence, I can draw but one 
conclusion— that Sir Dace Fontaine killed Pym." 

" I never heard such a strange thing ! " cried the Pater. " And 

what's to be done ? " , . , j -. » 

"That's the question," said Chandler. "What is to be done? 

And he left us with the doubt. 

Well it turned out to be quite true ; but I have not space here to 
go more into detail. Sir Dace Fontaine was guilty, and the dream 

was a true dream. . , r t i u 

" Did you suspect him ? " the Squire asked privately of Jack, who 

was taken into counsel the next day. 

" No, I never suspected Sir Dace," Jack answered. '' I suspected 
someone else — Verena." 

"No!" . , ^ 1. J 

" I did. About half-past eight o'clock that night, Ferrar had seen 
a young lady— or somebody dressed as one— watching Pym's house 
from the opposite entry: just where, it now appears, he later saw Sir 
Dace Ferrar thought it was Verena Fontaine. A httle later, in fact 
just after the calamity must have occurred, Alfred Saxby also saw a 
young lady running from the direction of the house, whom he also 
took to be Verena. Ferrar and I came to the same conclusion— I 
don't know about Saxby— that Verena must have been present when 
it happened, /thought that, angry at the state Pym was m, she 
might have given him a push in her vexation, perhaps inadvertently, 
and that he fell. Who knew ? " ^^ 

" But Verena was elsewhere that evening, you know; at a concert. 

« I knew she said so ; but I did not believe it. Of course I know 



360 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

now that both Ferrar and Saxby were mistaken ; that it was somebody 
else they saw, who bore, one must imagine, some general resemblance 
to her." 

" Well, I think you might have known better," cried the Squire. 

** Yes, I suppose I ought to. But, before the inquest had termi- 
nated, I chanced to be alone with Verena ; and her manner — nay, 
her words, two or three she said — seemed to imply her guilt, and also 
a consciousness that I must be aware of it. I had no doubt at all 
from that hour." 

" And is it for that reason, consideration for her, that you have 
partially allowed suspicion to rest upon yourself ? " pursued the Squire, 
hotly. 

** Of course. How could I be the means of throwing it upon a 
defenceless girl ? " 

*' Well, John Tanerton, you are a chivalrous goose !" 

^* Verena must have known the truth all along." 

" 27^^/'^ not probable," contended the Squire. "And Chandler 
wants to know what is to be done." 

" Nothing at all, that I can see," answered Jack. *' Sir Dace is 
not in a condition to have trouble thrown upon him." 

Good Jack ! generous Jack ! There are not many such self-denying 
spirits in the world. 

And what would have been done is beyond guessing, had Sir Dace 
not solved the difficulty himself. Solved it by dying. 

But I must first tell of a little matter that happened. Although we 
had heard what we had, one could not treat the man cavalierly, and 
the Squire — ^just as good at heart as Jack — went up to make enquiries 
at Oxlip Grange, as usual. One day he and Colonel Letsom strolled 
up together, and were asked to walk in. Sir Dace wished to see 
them. 

*' If ever you saw a living skeleton, it's what he is," cried the Squire 
to us when he came home. "It is in the nature of the disease, I 
believe, that he should be. Dress him up in his shroud, and you'd 
take him for nothing but bones." 

Sir Dace was in the easy-chair by his bed-room fire, Coralie sitting 
with him. By his side stood a round table with papers and letters 
upon it. 

" I am glad you have chanced to call," he said to them, as he sent 
Coralie away. " I wanted my signature witnessed by someone in 
influential authority. You are both county magistrates." 

"The signature to your will," cried the Squire, falling to that con- 
clusion. 

" Not my will," answered Sir Dace. " That is settled." 

He turned to the table, his long, emaciated, trembling fingers 
singling out a document that lay upon it. " This is a declaration," 
he said, " which I have written out myself, being of sound mind, you 
perceive, and which I wish to sign in your presence. I testify that 



Vereiia Fontaine's Rebellion. 361 

every word written in it is truth ; I, a dying man, swear that it is so 
before God." ' 

His shaky hands scrawled his signature, Dace Fontaine ; and the 
Squire and Colonel Letsom added theirs to it. Sir Dace then sealed 
op the paper, and made them each affix his seal also. He then 
tottered to a cabinet standing by the bed's head, and locked it up in 
it. ^ 

_ '* You will know where to find it when I am gone," he said. '* I 
wish someone of you to read it aloud, after the funeral, to those 
assembled here. When my will shall have been read, then read 
this." 

On the third day after this, at evening, Sir Dace Fontaine died. 
We heard no more about anything until the day of the funeral, which 
took place on the following Monday. Sir Dace left a list of those he 
wished invited to it, and they went. Sir Robert Tenby, Mr. Brandon, 
Colonel Letsom and his eldest son ; the parsons of Timberdale, Crabb, 
and Ishp; the three doctors who had attended him; old Paul and 
Tom Chandler ; Captain Tanerton, and ourselves. 

He was buried at Islip, by his own directions. And when we got 
back to the Grange, after leaving him in the cold churchyard, Mr. 
Paul read out the will. Coralie and Verena sat in the room in their 
deep mourning. Coralie's eyes were dry, but Verena sobbed in- 
cessantly. 

Apart from a few legacies, one of which was to his servant Ozias, 
his property was left to his two daughters, in equal shares. The 
chief legacy, a large one, was left to John Tanerton— three thousand 
pounds. You should have seen Jack's face of astonishment as he 
heard it. Herbert looked as if he could not believe his ears. And 
Verena glanced across at Jack with a happy flush. 

" Papa charged me, just before he died, to say that a sealed paper 
of his would be found in his private cabinet, which was to be read 
out now," spoke Coralie, in the pause which ensued, as old Paul's 
voice ceased. " He said Colonel Letsom and Mr. Todhetley would 
know where to find it," she added ; breaking down with a sob. 

The paper was fetched, and old Paul was requested to read it. So 
he broke the seals. 

You may have guessed what it was : a declaration of his guilt— if 
guilt it could be called. In a straightforward manner he stated the 
particulars of that past night : and the following is a summary of 
them. 

Sir Dace went out again that night after dinner, not in secret, or 
with any idea of secresy ; it simply chanced, he supposed, that no 
one saw him go. He was too uneasy about Verena to rest ; he fully 
believed her to be with Pym ; and he went down to Ship Street. 
Before entering the street he dismissed the cab, and proceeded 
cautiously to reconnoitre, believing that if he were seen, Pym would be 
capable of concealing Verena. After looking about till he was tired, 



362 Verena Fontaine's Rebellion. 

he took up his station opposite Pym's lodgings — which seemed to be 
empty — and stayed, watching, until close upon nine o'clock, when he 
saw Pym enter them. Before he had time to go across, the landlady 
began to close the shutters ; while she was doing it. Captain Taner- 
ton came up, and went In. Captain Tanerton came out In a minute 
or two, and walked quickly back up the street : he, Sir Dace, would 
have gone after him to ask him whether Verena was Indoors with 
Pym, or not, but the Captain's steps were too fleet for him. Sir 
Dace then crossed over, opened the street door, and entered Pym's 
parlour. A short, sharp quarrel ensued. Pym was In liquor, and — 
consequently — Insolent. In the heat of passion Sir Dace — he was a 
strong man then — seized Pym's arm, and shook him. Pym flew at 
him in return like a tiger, twisted his wrist round, and tore his shirt. 
Sir Dace was furious then ; he struck him a powerful blow on the 
head — behind the ear no doubt, as the surgeons testified afterwards 
— and Pym fell. Leaving him there, Sir Dace quitted the house 
quietly, never glancing at the thought that the blow could be fatal. 
But, when seated In a cab on the way home, the idea suddenly 
occurred to him — what if he had killed Pym ? The conviction, 
though he knew not why, or wherefore, that he had killed him, took 
hold of him, and he went into his house, a terrified man. The rest 
was known, the manuscript went on to say. He allowed people to 
remain In the belief that he had not been out of doors that night : 
though how bitterly he repented not having declared the truth at the 
time, none could know, save God. He now, a dying man, about to 
appear before that God, who had been full of mercy to him, declared 
that this was the whole truth, and he further declared that he had no 
intention whatever of Injuring Pym; all he thought was, to knock 
him down for his Insolence. He hoped the world would forgive him, 
though he had never forgiven himself; and he prayed his daughters 
to forgive him, especially Verena. He would counsel her to return 
to the West Indies, and marry George Bazalgette. 

That ended the declaration : and an astounding surprise It must 
have been to most of the eager listeners. But not one ventured to 
make any comment on it, good or bad. The legacy to John Taner- 
ton was understood now. Verena crossed the room as we were filing 
out, and put her two hands Into his. 

" I have had a dreadful fear upon me that It was papa," she whis- 
pered to him, the tears running down her cheeks. " Nay, worse 
than a fear : a conviction. I think you have had the same, Captain 
Tanerton, and that you have generously done your best to screen 
him ; and I thank you with my whole heart." 

" But, indeed," began Jack — and pulled himself up, short. 

" Let me tell you all," said Verena. " I saw papa come In that 
night : I mean to our lodgings in the Marylebone Road, so I knew 
he had been out. It was just past ten o'clock; Ozlas saw him too — 
but he Is silent and faithful. I did not want papa to see me ; fate, I 



Vcrena Fontaine's Rebellion. 363 

suppose, made me back into that little room, papa's library, until he 
should have gone upstairs. He did not go up ; he came into the 
room : and I hid myself behind the window curtain. I cannot 
describe to you how strange papa looked ; dt'eadful ; and he groaned 
and flung up his arms as one does in despair. It frightened me so 
much that I said nothing to anybody. Still I had not the key to 
it : I thought it must be about me : and the torn shirt — for I saw 
that, and saw him button his coat over it — I supposed he had, him- 
self, done accidentally. I drew one of the glass-doors softly open, 
got out that way, and up to the drawing-room. Then you came in 
with the news of Edward's death. At first, for a day or so, I 
thought as others did — that suspicion lay on you. But, gradually, 
all these facts impressed themselves on my mind in their startling 
reality ; and I felt, I saw, it could have been no other than he — my 
poor father. Oh, Captain Tanerton, forgive him ! Forgive me ! " 

" There's nothing to forgive ; I am sorry it has come out now," 
whispered Jack^ deeming it wise to leave it at that, and he stooped 
and gave her the kiss of peace. 

So this was the end of it. Of the affair which had so unplea- 
santly puzzled the world, and tried Jack. 

Jack, loyal, honest-hearted Jack, shook hands with everybody, 
giving a double shake to Herbert's, and went forthwith down to 
Liverpool. 

** I will take the Rose of Delhi again, now," he said to the Free- 
mans. " For this next voyage, at any rate." 

" And for many a one after it, we hope, Captain Tanerton," was 
their warm answer. And Jack and his bright face went direct from 
the office to New Brighton, to tell Aunt Dean. 

And what became of the Miss Fontaines, you would like to ask ? 
Well, I have not time at present to tell you about Coralie ; I don't 
know when I shall have. But, if you'll believe me, Verena took her 
father's advice, sailed back over the seas, and married George 
Bazalgette. 

Johnny Ludlow. 



ii%^^tS^,f^sS.,ft^'^r^ 



3^4 



ABOUT NORWAY. 

By Ch,\kle^ W. Wcod, Author of "Through Holland." 






H^fei^^^KI 




On the Road to Laerdal. 



LAERDALSCREN, at 
the head of the 

-^ _ Sogne Fjord, is quite 
'^~ ; an important Httle 
town for Norway, but 
._, in England would be 
■-/ thought little more 
than a village. Its 
aspect is that of a 
hamlet surrounded 
by high mountains, 
which press so closely 
on the one side that 
a sense of suffocation 
quickly follows upon 
arrival, and a sojourn 
of several days be- 
comes almost intoler- 
able. Few people 
stay beyond one night, so that a constant stream of visitors is in 
motion. A small stream, it is true, since Norway is amongst the 
comparatively unvisited countries of the earth. Nevertheless, it is 
so by comparison only. As a matter of fact, during the few available 
months of the year, Norway finds its worshippers, and they are as 
many as need be. 

Laerdalsoren, or Laerdal, as it is indifferently called, has some 
800 inhabitants. A quaint, old-fashioned place, the houses all built 
of wood ; the one street straggling, long, and narrow, with small 
byways leading round to the cottages and huts facing the fjord : 
tenements, some of them, that look ancient and in the last stage of 
consumption, for the most part inhabited by the boatmen and fisher- 
men of the district. Beyond these settlements the grand waters of 
the Sogne Fjord open out. On either side rise the mountains, 
massive and frowning, full of majesty and splendour. As you gaze, 
impatience seizes upon you to quit the small, confined village, 
launch out upon those waters, round those great bulwarks of nature, 
and make acquaintance with what lies beyond. 

Yet I doubt whether this was precisely our case the night we 
reached Laerdal. Our four days' incessant journeying had been 
full of novelty and enjoyment : but the truth of the old saying, 



About Norway. 365 

" Be moderate in all things," cannot be disputed. We had 
descended lower and lower into the valley, until the mountains 
expanded and the stream widened and yielded up its life to the 
fjord, and we found ourselves in the plain, on a level with the far-off 
sea — for the Sogne Fjord stretches 120 miles up into the land. 

We soon reached the church and the first of the straggling houses 
forming the town ; passed the post and telegraph office — always a 
welcome sight in these remote parts as a connecting link with civiliza- 
tion — and in a few moments were at Lindstrom's hotel, and in clover. 
Our present quarters were luxurious ; a vi^ell-furnished double sitting- 
room containing a fine-toned piano; and beyond, a dining-room — 
well supplied with white bread ! When A. caught sight of the latter 
— we had seen none since leaving Christiania — I trembled for his 
reason : for the day of reckoning : for the task that lay before the 
bread maker. 

The landlord spoke tolerable English ; spoke it better than he 
understood it : for he often interpreted what was said to him k tort 
et a travers, and had an uncomfortable way of answering Yes or No 
at random ; trusting to chance to be right or wrong, and, of course, 
seldom with a happy result. One slight incident was rather amusing, 
and proved how easily people may blunder who do not understand 
each other. 

I wished to arrange for a boat to take us the next morning to 
Aardal, but the landlord had disappeared. In the passage was a 
stout old dame, the landlord's mother, who knew not a word of 
English. In answer to a request for her son, she placed her arms 
a-kimbo, fell a-musing for a moment, and then rushing off as fast as 
her size permitted, brought back in triumph a tobacco-jar. An 
interesting object, no doubt, but not exactly what was then required. 

We laughed at what she now comprehended was a misappre- 
hension. The request was repeated, and, yet more, the owner of the 
place was indicated by signs as well as words. Light broke upon her. 

"A — h ! Ja ! ja ! Now she knew !" And disappearing through 
a doorway — which Nature forced her to take sideways, like a crab — 
she returned in a twinkling, out of breath, but full of self-congratu- 
lation at her intelligence, and presented me with a matchbox and a 
sounding " Vor so got ! " 

I gave up in despair, but, not to damp her ardour, accepted the 
matchbox. Almost at the same moment the landlord reappeared, 
the difficulty was over, and our wants were made known. In a short 
time he informed us that he had arranged for a boat and three- 
rowers to be at our disposal at eight o'clock the next morning. It 
was at least a four hours' row to Aardal. 

Remembering the late passage-at-arms with the old lady, I en- 
quired of Herr Lindstrom the Norwegian word for landlord. He 
misunderstood the question, thought I asked for the name of the 
landlord at Aardal, and replied *' Klingenberg." 



366 About Norway. 

" Klingenberg," I returned, wondering what could be its deri- 
vation. '' A strange word for landlord." 

"Very strange/' answered Herr Lindstrom, yet looking as if he 
thought the strangeness all on my side. But, never doubting, I 
accepted the lesson. This, too, presently gave rise to sundry cross- 
questions and crooked answers. 

The wild mountains were so close to the inn as to overshadow it, 
and seemed to crush upon us. Several small waterfalls trickled 
down the sides immediately before us, like silvery threads, making 
music as they ran — rather too much music when it came to the 
silent hours of the night. Yet the next morning arrived only too 
soon. But with the excitement of new scenes energy revived. At 
eight o'clock the boatmen were waiting at the door of the inn, and 
we started on our way to the Vettifos, one of the great waterfalls 
and wonders of Norway. It goes under different names — the 
Vettifos, the Vettisfos, the Morkfos, and the Morkavettisfos. 

We passed down the straggling street, found the boat at the shores 
of the fjord, and were soon out upon the deep waters. The men, 
knowing what was before them, began, continued, and ended their 
work in an especially calm and leisurely manner, that slightly taxed 
one's patience. Yet we made way, surely if slowly, and found that 
Laerdal was beginning to grow less distinct, until it looked no more 
than a small colony of fishermen's huts at the head of the fjord ; a 
handful of tenements dwarfed to the size of toy houses and Noah's 
arks by the surrounding heights. At length we turned an angle and 
it was lost to sight. 

We were now surrounded by gloomy mountains, wild, barren, and 
severe, towering in all directions, diversified in outline, and full of 
majestic grandeur. Before us, a vast expanse of water, like an 
immense lake, calm and tranquil, its dark green, almost black tinge, 
telling of immense and cruel depths. 

For upwards of four hours we were rowing amidst such scenes, 
varied only by an occasional fir-clad hill, and tiny house on the 
mountain slope, where men were chopping and stacking wood ; 
singing a song the while, which went ringing across the water, and 
seemed to startle by its merriment all the surrounding silence and 
gloom. Often, for long together not a sound broke the stillness, 
save the measured dip of the oars, as the men, leisurely as ever, 
carried us onward. 

To avoid the tide they hugged the shore in many places, and at 
one time came upon one of the small settlements — the little house 
on the slope, surrounded by pines, and the men chopping wood. 
This was a favourable moment for a rest. An animated conversation 
ensued in a language that seemed a pot-pourri of Chinese and chop- 
sticks (this is not meant for a pun, reader), and away we shot again ; 
leaving the choppers to their work — and how remote from the world ! 

So at last another turn brought us in sight of Aardal. Here 



About Norway. 367 

Nature had put on a more smiling mood ; and, as we neared, disclosed 
a small colony of picturesque houses with red roofs and green shutters ; 
a church with a quaint little spire — all surrounded by sloping hills, 
smiling and fertile ; a picture of quiet prosperity, of tranquillity and 
repose, such as they who live out in the great bustling world of life 
dream of, perhaps, but know not. A small pier shot out into the 
water, for which the rowers made. The inn stood out just above 
the landing, cool and white in the sunshine, small and of no pre- 
tension, but kept by two of the honestest men in Norway — Jens 
Klingenberg and his son Jens. 

A stalwart man, no longer young, came hurrying down. This, 
thought I, is the landlord ; and remembering the lesson I had learnt 
from Herr Lindstrom, 

"Klingenberg?" said I, as we landed: meaning thereby, "Are 
you the innkeeper ? " 

" Ja ! ja! Klingenberg !" cried he, with a perfect shout of delight 
at another proof that his reputation had preceded him into the world. 
His face shone with honesty and good-will, and grasping my hand to 
assist in hoisting me up from the boat, he wrung it with a force that 
brought tears to the eyes — though not, I fear, tears of gratitude. You 
see, he altogether mistook the question — we were at cross-purposes. 
A younger man now came out of the house, strong and well 
made, with an open, intelligent face : too much like the old man to 
be anyone but Jens Klingenberg junior. 

" Klingenberg, I suppose ? " I repeated, as before. 

" Ja ! ja ! " he cried, just as his father had done, a broad grin upon 
his honest face, and hastening to welcome us. 

So in we went, cramped by our four or five hours' seat in the boat, 
and glad to shake out some of the stiffness by a cHmb up the stairs 
to the first floor. The rooms were light and cheerful, and the view 
from the windows was glorious. Before us the little pier, the boatmen 
now leaning against the sides, and glad enough of a rest : still more 
glad of some beer, for which they developed unlimited capacities, 
and Klingenberg inexhaustible stores. Far away beyond the pier 
stretched the calm deep waters of the fjord; the stately mountains 
on either side narrowing more and more towards Aardal, until, away 
behind the house, they closed in the view. 

It was now past one o'clock, and we were only half-way on our 
journey. From here to the Vettifos was an almost continual ascent, 
and the road was steep and rugged. Luckily a horse was to be had, 
or the journey would have been as much beyond my powers as the 
possession of Aladdin's lamp, or any other of the cherished impossi- 
bilities of youth. Happily, too, A.'s powers of walking and climbing 
were unlimited : there was no need to draw lots for the " fiery steed." 

We started about two o'clock, with young Klingenberg as guide — a 
necessary accompaniment. Passing through the village, by the little 
white church and the cottages, we reached the borders of a small 



368 



About Norway. 



lake. From an adjoining boathouse Jens brought out a saddle. 
Then he and two men rowed us swiftly across the water, and we 
landed again in about a quarter of an hour. We left the boat in 
charge of the men, and Jens threw the heavy saddle over his 
shoulder as if it had been but a feather's weight. 

About twenty minutes' walk through the fields and over the slopes, 
and we reached a small settlement, where, hard by, a cream-coloured 
horse was grazing. In answer to Jens' call, a man came out of a 
carpenter's shed; a man pale and refined looking, with one of the 
noblest heads I had ever seen. He gave Jens a nod of good fellow- 
ship, and went off for the horse. Jens on his part threw down the 



/i 




Laerdalsoren, 

saddle, not sorry, with all his strength, to get rid of his load. It 
fitted the horse's back far better than his shoulder. 

As for the horse, it was one of the prettiest, most docile creatures 
imaginable. Before I had done with it, I loved the animal, and like 
the Irishman with his cow, could I have sent it over to England in 
a letter, it should have bid a long farewell to its wild mountain life. 
It was grazing quietly about a hundred yards away. Then, catching 
sight of us, it knew well enough what the invasion meant ; and prick- 
ing up its ears, and arching its neck, gave a slight neigh and began 
gently trotting up and down, its fine white mane and long tail flutter- 
ing in the breeze. It answered the master's call as obediently as a 
dog, and followed gently at his heels up to the cottage. 

We were soon ready and once more on the way. Now began a 



About Norway. 



369 



long, toilsome climb, which lasted until seven o'clock at night. I 
had never yet gone through anything of the kind on horseback : I 
am not sure that I should care to attempt it again. Without ever 
encountering actual danger — thanks to the sure-footedness of the 
horse — we were often in what appeared such imminent peril, that 
more than once I regretted the adventure and devoutly wished myself 
back again. For the pedestrians there was not even an appearance 
of risk, beyond the possibility of stones loosening from the heights 
and rolling down upon them. 

From the very beginning I noticed how wonderfully the horse 
piloted himself over the rough places and through impossible diffi- 




OxM THE Road to Vetti. 

culties ; exercising a skill and discrimination far greater than that of 
his rider. At length I gave it up to him, and allowed him to take 
his own course. The sagacity of the animal was marvellous ; the 
manner in which he would pause a moment at a troublesome spot, 
seem to pick out his way mentally, and then, boldly taking it, never 
hesitate until it was over. 

Jens was dressed in mountain costume : a short brown jacket, 
breeches coming down to his knees, dark ribbed stockings, and boots 
thick and heavy. He carried a thick stick, spiked, and wore a low 
felt hat, broad and picturesque. Over his arm he had thrown a 
macintosh, an apparently useless encumbrance this sunny day; but Jens 
was wiser than we were, and knew more about his own climate ; and 
presently, when he got tired of his burden, the horse relieved him of it. 

VOL. XXIX. B B 



370 About Norway. 

The road was uneven enough from the very beginning, but nothing 
startling, and for a time we went on calmly. True, the horse would 
sometimes mount a hillock which brought my head into contact with 
his ; and in descending reversed the matter, and left it prone with his 
tail. He seemed to think nothing of these little diversions : took 
them in so matter-of-fact a spirit that I was forced to do likewise. 

In this valley the scenery was laughing, sunny, and almost fertile. 
Fir trees clothed the slopes, and birches were sprinkled about the 
plain, which also yielded a carpet of ferns and flowers. But presently 
we turned to the right, and in a nook of the mountains suddenly 
came upon the roar of a torrent. In a {q^n moments we were in sight 
of the grand waterfall itself, rushing down in great strength from the 
mountain height, breaking in its course into three or four distinct 
falls, one below the other : an immense volume of white foam making 
all the air alive with its noise, and destroying the sense of solitude 
that filled the pass. 

A lovely and lonely spot indeed, wild and weird to the last degree. 
The slopes were a mixture of hard barren rock and pine trees that 
fringed delicately against the bright blue sky : great boulders stood 
out frowningly, many of them hundreds of tons in weight, split, in 
great cracks and fissures, from the mountain, and hanging, as it 
seemed, by a mere thread. Around us, and in the bed of the torrent, 
to which they offered small impediment, lay great pieces of rock and 
stone. 

Here I encountered my first " sensation " on horseback, and 
proved how dependable was my gentle steed. Advancing towards 
the waterfall, we soon reached a bridge which had to be crossed. It 
seemed composed of logs of wood, literally not more than a foot wide 
in all, without any protection on either side in the shape of railing. 
The water rushed beneath it over great boulders with tremendous 
force and speed ; the spray flew upwards and around, and as we 
neared it a cold dampness in the air penetrated to our very marrow. 
The noise of the waterfall was like thunder ; our voices had quite a 
far-off sound, and could scarcely be heard. So abundant was the 
spray that Jens put on his macintosh. The bridge was wet and 
slippery, and over this I was expected to guide the quadruped in full 
possession of all my faculties. 

The first impulse was to get down ; but I saw that by so doing I 
should so sink in the estimation of Jens, that of the two evils I pre- 
ferred the least certain, and kept my seat. Away we went, and I 
gave myself up for lost. 

But the horse took the planks with the greatest coolness ; and in 
the very middle of the bridge, within an ace of the rushing water, 
deafened and confused by the noise, wet and chilled by the spray, 
came to a dead stop, as much as to say : " Admire this sublime scene, 
but above all admire the steadiness of my nerve and the coolness of 
my head." Then, at a slight call from Jens, who was in advance 



About Norway, ^7^ 

with A., he quietly set in motion again, and got over to the other 
side. 

I felt that I had gone through a tremendous peril ; had had a 
narrow escape from the jaws of death. In reality it was nothing of 
the sort, and existed only in imagination ; but that made no difference 
to the impression. Certainly if the horse had slipped both would 
have rolled over : there was no space to recover footing. But these 
horses never do sHp, and you must make up your mind to resign 
yourself to them in faith. 

If danger existed at all, it came after: it was then one really required 
to bring courage and coolness to aid. Now began a very steep, 
sharp, and, as it seemed, perilous ascent for one on horseback. 
The narrow, broken path wound up the mountain, and we gradually 
seemed to rise far above the valley and the world, and to be on a 
level with the waterfall. We now looked down upon what we had 
so lately looked up to, and seemed to command the situation. The 
water rushed below us with a far-off sound. Often I could not see 
an inch of ground beside me : nothing but space. The path was 
rough, and its curves were so sharp and sudden that more than once 
the horse brought his feet together, and his head overhung one side 
of the precipice and his tail overhung the other. At such moments 
I felt like Mahomet's cofhn, hovering between heaven and earth ; 
like an eagle suspended in mid air, but — I hardly blush to own 
it — without the eagle's courage because without his wings. I gazed 
sheerly into yawning depths ; to slip from the horse's back would 
have been to step into thin air. 

All this would have been lost in walking, as it was lost upon A., 
who serenely wended his rough way onwards, yet more than once 
turned round to call out that he would sooner trust his own legs than 
the horse's. He and Jens took the lead and kept it easily. My 
progress on horseback was a far slower one than theirs on foot. The 
animal was deliberate in his movements, pondered them well, paused 
every now and then a whole half-minute between one step and the 
next. He knew that the slightest mistake meant death to himself 
and his rider. In some places the slip of an inch, a tread upon a 
loose stone, would have given us a long flight into the depths, to take 
our place amongst the rocks, and for ever to pass out of life and our 
little earthly sphere. It is melancholy to think that the world would 
have gone on rolling just the same. 

" Our little systems have their day ; 
They have their day, and cease to be." 

So it is for the very best of us. But I do not know that this is 
productive of any individual consolation. Companionship in suffer- 
ing, which creates sympathy one with another, we know is sweet to 
man, who is made up of such a mixture of good and ill ; but in the 
closing scene of all, this consolation is for ever denied us. 



372 About Norway. 

At length we reached our highest point and began to descend. 
Tremendous and dangerous as seemed the climbing, the downward 
process was far worse. Every now and then the horse himself would 
stand still, and Jens had to rouse his drooping courage by a call : 
once or twice he even had to come back and lead him forward. 

So we went on, until we reached once more an open level plain, 
through which ran a noisy shallow stream — water pursues us every- 
where in Norway — the shallower the noisier, according to the fashion 
of this world and the custom of the people in it. Here was green 
grass and soft turf; and the horse and its rider, now on excellent 
terms with each other, made up for lost time, passed Jens and A. 
with a bound, and went flying off on the wings of the wind. Before 
the pedestrians had traversed that long bit of plain, we had scoured 
it half-a-dozen times. Then a short ascent, and we reached the 
small farm of Gjelde, and were half way to Vetti. 

Here we dismounted, and found ourselves in a mountain hut or 
cottage, the interior so dark that we could scarcely distinguish the 
long deal table at one end, a rough chair or bench here and there, 
and a bed in a kind of recess. A woman, the sole occupant, ap- 
peared glad to see anyone coming up from the world, though that 
world might be no larger or more important than Aardal. Opposite 
this hut was another, where sat a woman and a girl near a braize fire, 
in a chimney almost as big as the hut itself. The woman was rolling 
out some oat-cake dough into the thickness of a sixpence, large and 
round, about two feet in diameter. When rolled it seemed 
tough and hard, more like paper than anything else This, with 
acrobatic dexterity and the aid of a long thin stick, she tossed upon 
a large flat piece of iron, a sort of frying-pan without sides, and 
placed it upon the embers. When baked it was tossed again on to 
a pile lying beside her. This was called " flad-brod," and flat it 
certainly was in every sense of the word : tasteless, and containing, 
one supposed, a small amount of nourishment. But the Norwegians 
seem able to keep life in the body with what would be gradual 
starvation to other people. No doubt their free healthy life, which 
calls for the smallest possible wear and tear of the nervous system, 
counts for a great deal in the matter. For, with it all, they are hardy 
and contented. The old woman sitting near her braize fire, baking 
her bread, was a veritable picture : a strange picture of life, full of 
rough power ; a certain silent eloquence that carried its lesson, if one 
chose to see the application. She looked at us in a kindly manner, 
and nodded, but never moved from her position or ceased from her 
work. 

The hardest part of the road yet lay before us, and began with the 
very beginning. As we left the cottage, down in the fields of this 
little farm we saw two men ploughing in an original manner. Their 
arms were thrown round each other's necks, and thus, naturally yoked 
together, they dragged the plough behind them, and the work was done. 



About Norway, 373 

Soon after starting we came to another magnificent cataract, the 
Gjeldefos, which, from a tremendous height, fell in showers of beauti- 
ful spray ; now hundreds of feet clear of all obstacles, and now 
coming into contact with the rock and fringing itself into white foam 
and devices so fantastic, that it seemed as if Art had here lent her 
aid to Nature. This fall was infinitely beautiful. 

The ascent now became so steep and rugged, the paths so difficult 
and broken, so full of loose stones, that it was harder work than ever 
both for the horse and the walkers. Higher we ascended, and yet 
more high, and wilder, grander and more sublime and severe grew 
the scenery. The rugged mountains gradually closed in the pass, 
which became so contracted that we seemed to be reaching the end of 
all things. Far down we gazed into a narrow gorge, through which the 
noisy shallow water ran : an accumulation of trees, rocks, stones, 
ferns and wild-flowers; a tremendous mountain chasm; all the 
difficulties and sublime points of the Valley of Diamonds, but alas, 
without its precious stones. Here and there the mountain sides 
were perpendicular from the top to the bottom : immense walls of 
stone that took one's very breath away to contemplate. 

The weather now changed. Heavy clouds gathered and threw 
their dark shadows over the pass, which assumed a weird, sombre, 
and dejected appearance. One felt the influence insensibly, and 
a downpour of rain now commenced. The very beauties of nature 
take to themselves wings, when the sun withdraws his face. Jens, 
with a macintosh coming down to his heels, set weather and rain at 
defiance; whilst the beauties of the pass seemed equally indifferent 
to him. But A., who had brought no macintosh, turned up his 
collar, and began to look out for signs of the Vetti farm. 

In due time they declared themselves. At length we seemed to 
rise on a level with the mountain tops ; we turned off from the 
narrow path edging the precipice, and passing to the right, reached 
a sort of plateau or table-land, still rough and uneven, but evidently 
the beginning of the end. In a short time, 5,000 feet above 
the level of the sea, out of the world, out of sight and sound 
of humanity ; in a spot secret, retired, and silent as the grave — and 
little less cheerful — we came upon the humble settlement of the 
Vetti Farm. The rain was pouring in torrents ; it was now seven 
o'clock ; evidently we could do nothing but remain here quietly for 
the night, and go on to the fall the next morning. For though at 
Vettij we were not at the fos : it would still take two hours to 
reach it, acquaint ourselves with its wonders, and return to the 
farm. 

Jens was relieved at our decision. That very morning only he had 
returned from the Vettifos with two young students who had come 
all the way from Sweden for the purpose of making excursions in 
Aardal and the Sogne Fjord : and though he seemed still to have 
plenty of work in him, he must have had enough of it for one day. 



374 About Norway. 

So we made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances permitted. A 
solitary mountain hut, dark skies, a steady downpour of rain ; a 
temperature cold and chilling ; no fire ; people who spoke not one 
word of English ; all this was only conducive to hilarity to such 
natures as belong to Mr. MarkTapley. 

Yet we found more than could have been expected in a spot so 
desolate, so difficult of access, so remote from the world — and so far 
above it. The little hut contained a living-room, two tiny sleeping- 
rooms, just large enough to hold two small beds in each, and a fourth 
room that was half bed, half store-room. As there was not space 
in the sleeping-rooms for a bed and a wash-hand-stand, a basin — not 
too large — was placed on a chair in a sitting-room ; and an original 
looking-glass developed mountains and precipices in one's physiognomy 
and reflected a double set of features. We endeavoured to buy it as 
a curiosity, but the people evidently considered it a rare and precious 
article, and refused to part with it. 

This cottage had evidently been built for the accommodation of 
travellers. The people of the farm lived in a building opposite, 
which seemed composed of one large room, with a huge chimney 
corner, where peats were burning, and sending forth fragrant odours. 
They were decent, civilized-looking people, like most of their kind 
we saw in Aardal : men and women of a type above the ordinary 
men and women one meets with in that class of life. 

They prepared us a famous tea in their own quarters, and ran 
across with it to ours. The very fact of not being able to comprehend 
each other — for not even Jens spoke a word of English — made the 
slight errors and misunderstandings that occurred, so many golden 
opportunities for merriment in this gloomy abode. 

Before Jens disappeared for the night we had a long and animated 
conversation with him, and though often wide of the mark, each was 
convinced of being thoroughly understood by the other. There was 
something so intelligent about Jens, that his ignorance of English 
was nothing short of a disgrace : he was so open, frank and honest, 
so anxious to please, so gentle and quiet, that we felt ourselves lucky 
to have found so pleasant a guide. In this benighted spot, not only 
hours, but days and weeks away from all civilization, an ill-tempered 
or morose fellow, with an *' evil eye " or an ungainly cast of count- 
enance, would have been an object for conciliation with fear and 
trembling. Jens was the exact opposite to all this. 

The next morning we started soon after five o'clock for the Vettifos. 
From this point everyone had to walk : the path was too rugged, 
broken, and precipitous for any horse to attempt it. 

A road rough and rugged indeed ; full of rocks and stones, 
brambles and wild roots ; overgrown with tangle which concealed 
many of the inequalities, and sent you now and then sprawling head 
foremost in a manner more grotesque than pleasant. A sharp, steep, 
quick descent. The rain, which had come down in torrents all night, 



About Norway. 375 

had now ceased ; but the path was wet and slippery, and the shrubs, 
often up to one's waist, were dripping water. 

At last the bottom ; and turning sharply to the right, before us 
was the waterfall we had come so far to seek. A high, perpendicular 
cliff, straight as a wall, and over the summit came tumbling the white 
water, in a clear fall of 1,000 feet, touching no rock, meeting no 
obstacle in its way. In this its greatest attraction consists. Other 
falls are as high, and higher ; other falls have as great a body of 
water, and greater; but an unbroken descent of 1,000 feet, this is 
what other falls have not. Fancy an immense column of water falling 
nearly three times the height of St. Paul's. 

And yet we were both disappointed. There was no doubt about 
that. We had heard so much of the Vettifos ; it had been described 
in colours so glowing as an eighth wonder of the world, and one 
of the great wonders of Norway, that we had expected more than 
the reality. In point of beauty it was not to be compared with the 
two great waterfalls we had passed on the road from Aardal. 

The surrounding rocks were so gigantic that the immense height 
could not be realised. The body of water was small : so small that 
towards the bottom the water lost itself in spray. After heavy rains 
it increases, but the rains of this one night had not made any percep- 
tible difference. Jens said he had often seen a much greater volume 
of water than to-day. It was certainly wonderful to see this long, 
unbroken column ; to trace its progress from the moment it left the 
height to the very end, always falling, falling, falling ; but it raised 
little emotion beyond that of marvel. 

Many things were against us. We had had to turn out at an, 
early hour ; the dull, gloomy morning threatened rain ; it was cold 
and raw ; the road had been wet and unpleasant, the walk laborious 
in the extreme ; imagination had found nothing on which to fasten 
itself. Well for us that the whole way up from Aardal had been so 
full of beauty — it is one of the grandest passes in Norway — so 
sublime in its severity, which had more than delighted and repaid us 
for our exertions : otherwise, to disappointment would have been 
added vexation of spirit. 

We could not approach within many yards of the fall : the cold 
was freezing, and the spray would have drenched us through in a few 
moments. So we contented ourselves with a seat upon huge stones 
at a respectful distance, and watched the water, which took all 
sorts of fantastic devices on its course from the top to the bottom, 
according to the power with which it fell over the edge. The 
whole surrounding scene was inexpressibly wild, rugged, and barren, 
but most beautiful, and with sunshine it would have been far more 
so. Mountains enclosed us in a great rocky rampart, impregnable, 
impassable : we were at the ends of the earth. 

After a sufficiently long spell of gazing, we started again for Vetti. 
If the downward road had been hard work, what must be said of the 



37^ 



About Norway, 



up-hill way in returning ? A. and Jens took it as a very matter-of- 
fact affair : went up and up, and would have gone up and up very 
comfortably until Doomsday, I verily believe. It was quite exas- 
perating Every now and then they turned round from their far- 
ahead vantage ground, and pityingly surveyed a struggling mortal 
who never thought to reach Vetti alive, and to whom they never 
offered help or consolation. But we got there at last, about eight 
o'clock, and after half an hour's rest were thankful for breakfast. 

About nine, or soon after, Jens brought up the horse, and we 
started on our journey back to Aardal. What should I have done 




Vetti Farm. 



without my gentle steed ? Certainly have left my bones behind me 
at Vetti, or on the road. 

Our return journey was nearly all down hill, and so much the more 
difficult for the horse to keep a firm footing. We soon got into the 
old path, and looked over the giddy precipice into the yawning 
depths, where still the noisy water ran its course. If I had cared 
little for my position yesterday, I cared still less for it to-day. Again 
we found ourselves in the same critical situation ; and again, at one 
or two of the sharp turnings, the horse's head overhung one side 
of the terrible precipice, and his tail the other. Once more I felt my- 
self suspended in mid-air, and went through the same terrific sensa